Monday, March 6, 2017

Budget Presentation tonight highlight's council's focus for 2017 financials

Prince Rupert residents will get their first look tonight at the work in progress that is the 2017 City of Prince Rupert budget, with Corinne Bomben, the City's Chief Financial Officer set to provide what is in effect the first draft for what the final document may look like.

Ms. Bomben's presentation to Council tonight, will set in motion the public engagement process for the month, with residents of the city invited to attend a Special Budget Consultation session on March 15th at City Hall

At that session, members of the public will have an opportunity to share their thoughts on where the city is heading with its financial plan for the year ahead.

As a way of gaining more information on the Budget process, the background material for tonight's presentation is available on the city's Agenda page for tonight's council session, starting at page 9.

To be discussed tonight will be how the Financial Process will move forward, with Ms. Bomben set to outline the results of a request from Department heads to plan for a Status Quo Budget, providing for the same levels of service as from 2016.

Among the Highlights that will be shared this evening, are the main differences between this year and last, those notes include:

All capital purchases and works are to be funded through grants, reserves, dividends, and operating surplus carried forward from 2016.

Contractual wage increases and benefit rate increases result in an additional cost of $490,000, which is 2.7% of payroll costs.

Airport revenue has been reduced by $120,000 to recognize the departure of Hawkair.

As part of the agreement reached between Prince Rupert and the District of Port Edward, the City will retain $100,000 less of the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement to contribute to shared services. This results in $100,000 additional need from Prince Rupert taxpayers to offset the payment to Port Edward.

The 2017 Budget includes a $29,000 Library budget increase that has been passed on by the Library.

Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. will be providing a dividend of $1.3 million to fund Planning for Major Projects initiatives: ( a list of what those projects may be is not expanded on as part of the documentation for tonight's meeting.)

As well, Legacy Incorporated will be delivering $4.789 Million for Capital Works (of which $4.050 Million is for Phases 1 and 2 of the Water Project) The dividend results in no impact to taxpayers for one-time costs of an operational and capital nature.

Also noted in the Highlights notes is the advisory that Utility Funds are self-funding. With increases in Utilities Rates covering the projected costs.

Of key importance for residents is the plans the city may have for the taxation levels for 2017 and on that theme Ms. Bomben will note that while assessments have increased, the city will be required to adjust the mill rate to achieve the same level of taxation revenue as found in 2016.

The report notes that it doesn't necessarily mean that an increase is coming for every taxpayer, the process as noted by the CFO's notes is dependent on the change in the assessed value of a taxpayer's property.

However, for some taxpayers in the city a recommended increase is included in the report with the CFO noting that property owners are encouraged to contact the finance department to learn of ways to lessen the financial impact of property taxes.

The anticipated increase to the mill rate is to be set at 1.5 per cent to cover a projected deficit of 160,000 dollars. Based on the average assessment from 2016 compared to 2017 levels, that increase to homeowners will be 38 dollars, based on an average priced home of $260,000.

Four key charts provide the financial snapshot for tonight's presentation.

Among some of the information that is reviewed are the financial results and Budget projections from City departments, RCMP services, Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue,Watson Island, the Legacy Fund, Airport Ferry and other expenses and revenue streams over the last year,

 You can review those notes below (click to enlarge)

City's information statement on Revenues by Department and Budget projections

City's information statement on Expenditures by Department and Budget projections
City's information statement on on Utility Fund financials and Budget projections

City's information statement on Proposed Mill Rate increase

Tonight's report will offer City Council members the opportunity to make their first public comments on what direction the would like to see the city's financial planning follow in the year ahead.

Any pencil sharpening, or modifications to Ms. Bomben's blue print may come following the Public Engagement Session, when Council members will hear the comments from the public, with the city planning to offer on line and text voting for some of their topics of note.

Council will vote to implement the budget recommendations later in the Spring, which is when residents will have a clearer picture as to how much, if any their taxes may go up for the July tax payment season.

As well, as the process moves forward we may learn of any changes to the recommendations from Ms. Bomben that the Council members may suggest before the final budget is approved.

You can follow the Budget process along through the Spring from our archive page, where we will list items of interest related to the Budget planning process.

Further background on the Council session for tonight can be found on our Preview page.

More items related to City Council sessions can be found on our Council Discussion archive.

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