Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Crafting a Budget in uncertain times ... Prince Rupert City Council moves forward with their Budget process

With an acknowledgement that the routine matters of the evening were somewhat less of importance compared to the State of Emergency motion, the Mayor moved forward with the Council agenda on Monday night.

Introducing, the Budget process and the public engagement opportunity that on the night did not include for any in chamber presentations from the public.

On a night where the majority of the council members were participating by phone as a result of the new Social distancing measures and with limitations on public attendance, the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben, provided for a brief overview of the Budget and Five Year Financial plan.

Ms Bomben noted how the city was in uncertain times and observed that the city has not been told if their legislative responsibilities have been delayed in light of the pandemic.  

And with that advisory, the City's CFO advised that they would continue on with the second public engagement period as part of the meeting that evening.

"Currently we do not anticipate significant changes as a result of the pandemic however if there is anything that comes to light prior to seeking budget direction, we will make the changes and communicate them to council  -- Prince Rupert Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben

Her overview of the Budget planning, followed the same themes of the February 24th and March 9th reports, though she did make note that the hard copies once available at the Library, Civic Centre and City Hall were no longer accessible, directing residents towards the city website for a review of the documentation.

Ms Bomben also advised as to how the city collects taxes on behalf of a number of other agencies, as well as to remind of a range of tax payment options available to residents and encouraged those looking for more information to contact City Hall.

"Staff would like to remind home and business owners that property taxes can be paid in advance on a monthly basis through a pre-authorized withdrawal program offered by the city.  Paying monthly can smooth out the financial impact of property taxes, as well those with mortgages can have their property tax payments combined through their lending  institution. Anyone interested in setting up a pre- authorized withdrawal program can contact City Hall"

She then outlined how the community engagement process has been modified in wake of the city's recent moves to limit access to City Hall, pointing the public towards the Rupert Talks program with a current survey period to come to an end on March 27th. 

The CFO advised that in light of the changes to access to civic facilities,  the city will be making alternative plans to deliver any of the survey findings to the public.

As for the path ahead for the Budget Process, the CFO outlined the steps to come:

"Final BC assessments values will be provided next week, at which point we will incorporate the information and provide it to the council when we seek Budget bylaw direction at a Special meeting of Council in April"

Ms. Bomben wrapped up her presentation by advising residents that if they have questions on the Budget process they could contact the City at 250-627-0935 or by email at

Mayor Brain did not offer an opportunity for any of the Council members to ask any questions, or make any comments related to the revised engagement plans or other elements of the Budget.

Something which made for a lost moment to hear from the Council members, who as the elected  representatives of the residents of the city might have inquired as to how the City's Financial Officer views the current financial uncertainty both in the province and community,

As well as to advise as to how these new financial head winds may pose potential challenges moving forward towards many of the budget elements that have been put forward.

You can review Ms. Bomben's full presentation of Monday from the City's website, it starts at the thirty seven minute mark.

For more notes on Monday's City Council Session see our Council Timeline feature here.

A wider overview of Council Discussion themes is available here, while notes on the 2020 Budget Process have been archived here.

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