Wednesday, March 16, 2022

City's CFO Corinne Bomben charts a path towards a proposed 3.63 percent tax increase for 2022 Civic Budget

Prince Rupert residents had their first glimpse as to what may be ahead come property tax time of early July. 

With Corrine Bomben the City's Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager providing for the first Budget notes for this year, hosting a twenty five minute presentation at Monday's Council session.

While not specifically mentioned, many of the elements noted on the evening will be funded through dividends, which comes through the city's Financial instrument of Legacy Inc., while the path towards a balanced budget will seemingly also require an increase in taxation on property.

Ms. Bomben  commenced with her overview with a reminder that no final decision would be made until after the public consultation period was complete and the city received had the final assessment totals from BC Assessment.

The first segment of her presenation provided a review of the services that the City offers to the community and a note of the scope of the employment offered by the city, with 175 full time and nearly 100 casual employees.

The overview then explained how the various funds, the three utility funds, and operating fund all work.

The CFO highlighted how the January assessment on residential properties that had seen an increase for most of 31 percent and how that impacts on the calculation of taxes towards the Operating Fund.

The contractual requirements of the 2022 budget made for a short overview to explain how those elements contribute to the Budget process.

Towards that Ms Bomben noted that Wages, benefits and Work Safe Premium requirements have been offset by savings on capital spending previously funded by taxation in 2021 as well as net new taxation from new builds and fee increases. 

As well, the CFO observed that the city will continue to make use of COVID related funding for impacts on those departments still affected by the pandemic such as the Airport Ferry.

She observed how the Paving Program will continue to remain at the same level as 2021 and that utility rates increases have covered budgeted operation increases for those services.

A review of Capital projects included a change towards the RCMP Detachment plans, notes on the Woodworth Dam project,  as well as an issue at the new landfill site which will require $529,000 from reserves to repair a tear to the new cell line damaged during a storm in the fall of 2021.

Monday's Budget review noted of the city's plans to make use
of the old MacCarthy GM dealership for the city's public works crews

As for new Capital requests for 2022, Bomben outlined three initiatives to move forward in 2022.  

Included on the list was the first public mention of the City's plans towards the leasehold upgrades to the MacCarthy Dealership on Portage Avenue, that structure apparently to be used for the City's Public Works Crews, the asset cost is $750,000 and it will be funded through Dividend.

In follow up information to that cost, the city outlined that the funding was towards Renovations to the old MacCarthy dealership building to accommodate the City Public Works office and warehousing - paid for by a dividend from Legacy Inc. All current facilities are leaking and/or have been determined to be unsafe. 

Roof improvements for the Canfisco Warehouse property will require an estimated 150,000 dollars funded through Dividend. 

While a project related to the Third Avenue and Fulton Streetlights will be funded through 50,000 dollars from dividend.

A Special Project from December. known as the Survey Benchmarks and Right of ways was removed from the 2022 Budget.

Three new special projects were introduced for 2022, Downtown Revitalization and Asset Management the project cost of $150,000 will be funded by Dividend.

The 2022 Municipal Election process will be funded at $40,000 funded through taxation.

The last of the special project items was momentum for the Situation Tables initiative to be funded by a 43,000 dollar grant.

The addition of four relief fire fighters is part of the plans for
the city's 2022 budget as noted on Monday evening

The First New operating  fund item is the staffing addition to the Fire Department, something which the CFO did not expand on and will cost 430,000 Dollars funded through taxation. In later information provided by the city that was explained by way of the addition of four Relief Firefitghters, to ensure that the PRFD has an adequate number of on-duty staff to make entry into structure fires.

The Public Works occupancy lease will cost 310,000 dollars funded through taxation.

The RCMP contract increase of 380,000 dollars will be funded through taxation.

The new 24 hour public washroom maintenance costs will come to 30,000 dollars funded through taxation

As well, a transfer of 400,000 dollars to capital reserves will be done through taxation.

How the city could pay for all of those elements if approved by Council and balance the proposed budget will require a mill rate increase of 3.63 percent.

"After allocating all available funding the amount needed to balance the budget of $700,000 thousand which is a mill rate increase of 3.63 precent. As mentioned at the beginning of this presentation residential values increased on average thirty one percent over last year. 

For those  owners with an increase of thirty one percent or more, tax payers would have seen a tax increase even with no mill rate increase proposed. With the  proposed increase to balance the budget, homeowners with assessed values that went up  more than 26 percent or more, will see an increase in their municipal bill.

We have been fortunate enough over the past seven years to have not had an increase of more than  point 5 percent overall this is more than beat inflation in the same period.

Given the fact our assessed values have increased over time and there have been minimal to zero increases to the mill rate  in the same period, our residential mill rate has dropped since 2014" -- City of Prince Rupert Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager Corinne Bomben on the proposed budget mill rate changes

Ms Bomben then provided a short tutorial in how the assessment from January will deliver some increases in municipal bills for some homeowners.

To bring her presentation to a close, the CFO highlighted some of the programs available to the public to assist in their property tax requirements of July 4th, noting how to learn more on those options.

Ms. Bomben observed as to how the documentation is now available at the library, city hall and online on the city website, as well she outlined the Budget Simulation program to allow residents to learn more about budget making and provides those who use it to create their own budget to explore what goes into the process.

The Budget simulation program, which you can explore further here,  will be available to the public until Tuesday, April 12th.

Other ways to provide feedback on the budget include by email, by phone and mail, or by attending two public consultation sessions as part of the City Council sessions on March 28th and April 11th.

When it came to questions or observations from Council, there were only a few for the CFO, with little in the way of follow up when it came to much of the new spending that she outlined was required.

Councillor Cunningham had one question, asking for an explanation related to the three major industries and why caps are in place and what impacts they have. Ms. Bomben noted of the Port Property Tax Act and how it impacts on the city's finances, as well she noted how with the AltaGas and Pembina facilities  the city does have opportunity to set their taxation rate as they do for all other property tax classes.

Councillor Mirau followed up on that theme on the Port properties, asking as to what the net impact of the depreciated Port values, which Ms. Bomben noted would be a 23,000 dollar loss to the city.

Councillor Adey asked as to how it is determined that one item would be funded by reserves or surplus and others through taxation.

Ms. Bomben outlined how the reserves and surpluses are directed towards capital items or one time items and some have statutory requirements as to what they can be used for. She observed that taxation is typically the last resort towards funding Operations, listing off some of the other elements that they can use before making use of taxation.

She answered a follow up question from the Councillor on flexibility when it comes to financial resources, by noting that there is no flexibility in adjusting or moving resources for Operating funds.

Mayor Brain asked what kind of timeline the city is on towards finalizing its budget, with Ms. Bomben noting that it must be adopted by May 13th year, noting how staff would like to give residents enough time to calculate what the taxation burden may be to them.

Mr. Brain then recapped the themes of the night and how the next process is to hear from the public with a more complete picture then to be in place prior to Council discussing what priorities they may have in mind for the 2022 Budget.

Ms. Bomben also reinforced the call for  the public to participate in the process to allow council to make the best decision possible for the community.

City Manager Rob Buchan asked one question of the CFO, related to what the cost of living increase this year and how the budget compares to that.

In reply Ms. Bomben noted the the inflation rate was 3.4 report and that the proposed tax increase was 3.63 percent, the Mayor adding how that was in line with cost of living increases.

Following the presentation the city has provided more background on the Budget process through the Rupert Talks program.

More information related to the budget process is available through the City of Prince Rupert website.

The City has yet to post the Video of Monday's Council session, which includes the Budget presentation and its range of visual themes, once they have posted the Account of the Council meeting we will add it to this article to allow for reference for readers.

The Video was posted to the City Website as of March 23rd. The Presentation was the first item of the night.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be explored through our Council Timeline feature.

Further background on the Budget planning can be reviewed through our archive page here.


  1. how is it possible that residential properties went up 30+% but port properties pay less this year? what a joke

  2. "The new 24 hour public washroom maintenance costs will come to 30,000 dollars funded through taxation"

    That is roughly $82 per day to service a single public toilet.

    Is the toilet paper organic and humanely pressed?