Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Council defeats taxation bylaw motion; takes the issue to Special session on Wednesday

When it comes to setting their financial plank for 2014 in motion, Prince Rupert City Council will be starting all over again it seems.

That after a split vote on Monday night left Council in the position of having defeated the most recent financial blue print with its 1.2 per cent tax increase.

With Councillor Carlick-Pearson not at Monday's session, Council split 3-3 on the issue, sending the motion to defeat, with Council to try once again to carve out its financial plan in a special session set for Wednesday.

A date where hopefully everyone will be in attendance (with an attempt to reach the vacationing Councillor Carlick-Pearson by phone) and the discussions will finally deliver some kind of decision on what the city plans to bring forward to its taxpayers.

As we have mentioned frequently during this process, when it comes to the Budget planning of recent years, the final decision is never really an easily attainable moment for Council.

The path is more meandering than straight line, with as we have seen this week,  one week's solid decision making and definitive statements giving way to a new shift, which puts all the work of the past on the shelf, as another round of discussion takes place.

Last year it was a surprise labour agreement, (the terms of which were never shared with the public) that seemingly changed the nature of the City's Budget plan, a last minute thing that left all the previous work of the previous months more of a working document, than any kind of a final declaration.

For the moment, the new change in the dynamic would appear to be City Council's concerns with Regional District, a theme introduced on Monday and one which perhaps Wednesday's discussions will carry on with, as Council expresses more of its thoughts on Regional District taxation and the burden that Prince Rupert believes is unjustly held by the largest municipality of the region.

How that issue as well as the Mayor's wish for a larger contribution from the Region on such files as the Airport, Taxation and Policing play out remains to be seen.

Councillors revisited many of their themes of the April 1st meeting which at the time delivered the tax bylaw with its 1.2 percent increase. After about fifteen minutes of back and forth on many of the same themes of the last two months, the Mayor put the bylaw to a vote, which resulted in the split.

With City Manager Robert Long advising that the motion was then defeated and that Council would have to return to work on finding that much desired compromise.

While the larger issues of the Regional District, concerns over the Port and the PILT payments will no doubt make for much of Council's discussions future sessions.

For the moment, the larger issue will be to deliver a budget document before the May deadline arrives, Council returns to that process with a Special Wednesday session, which if they can find some common ground on, they will then put to a vote for first, second and third reading.

If successful, Council will then return in another Special session on Tuesday the 22nd to finish off the process.

Prince Rupert's taxpayers no doubt await the latest chapter in the ongoing drama, wondering if Council can finally nail down the numbers and give them some information on the tax burden that may be theirs this year.

The full review of the latest twist in the Budget saga can be found from the City's Video Archive.

The discussion runs from the 57 minute mark to the 1 hour twenty four minute mark.

We have more items on developments at City Hall available on our archive page.

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