Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Vote Count remains same, as Council gives Final approval to Financial Plan/Property Tax Bylaws

Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa  held to his position of not approving
of the increase to Prince Rupert property taxes for 2022 on Monday evening

The last of the formalities towards final approval for the 2022 Financial Plan/Property Tax Bylaws took only a few moments of Monday's 24 minute Council session, with the vote count remaining as it had from first reading, with Councillor Randhawa holding to his vote against the second of the twin financial themes explored on the night.

As we outlined in April, his was the sole dissenting vote one cast over the increase to the property tax rate, with Mr. Randhawa preferring a use of the Legacy Inc financial instrument to cushion a blow, a proposal that the remaining councillors did not endorse for 2022.

As for the short discussion on the 2022 financials, only two council members spoke during the approval process and those were more enquiries on elements of the financial budgeting.

Councillor Adey had one question related to Permissive Tax Exemptions, with his focus on the downtown revitalization tax exemption program which came into existence in 2020, asking how effective it has been and what revenue has been derived from it.

Ms. Bomben noted that what the Councillor was asking about was not included in the Permissive tax Exemptions its under different legislation, as to the Downtown program she observed that they only had one application to date and they won't know until last year as to what level of exemption it will qualify for.

"The Downtown Development Revitalization Tax Exemption is not inclusive within the Permissive Tax Exemption, it's under different legislation. We actually ... have one application that has been received by Council and we don't have any information quite yet as to the non-market change that is going to be exempted. We won't know for some time probably into next year.

We don't anticipate that there will actually be that much exempted because it was really just painting and some changes to the front door" -- Chief Financial Officer/Deputy City Manager Corrine Bomben

Councillor Cunningham asked for an update as to how many other industrial properties that the city has, other than the Prince Rupert Port Authority. In reply,  Ms. Bomben observed that AtlaGas and Pembina both are not part of the Port Property Tax Act and are civic ratepayers.

Earlier in Monday's Council Session, the Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager had provided a short review of the Financial Audited Statements, which were also approved by the Council membership on the night.

From her report to Council on the night she highlighted some of the differences between years and outlined that after acceptance the Auditors will offer an unqualified audit opinion to the statements after  Council accepts them  observing that an unqualified opinion is a Clean opinion. 

Ms. Bomben also noted how the city's financial position is similar to 2020 thanks to the COVID safe restart funds and the efforts of staff to deliver services within budget, along with support from both federal and provincial levels of government. 

Part of her overview of the financial document included mentions of Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. and CityWest and their contribution to the civic finances.

"Prince Rupert Legacy and CityWest have contributed towards the overall financial position of the City in a positive way and we continue to utilize those municipal enterprises to contribute to our infrastructure needs."

The CFO also reinforced for Council that the Audited Statements are just a snapshot of the city's financial picture.

"These audited statements are a snapshot of the city's financial position at the year ended December 31st and are backward facing. They do not tell the full story of the city's capital replacement needs given there are still many left on the list. 

The Five year Financial Plan is the forward facing document that the statements measure against. These statements reflect that the City is following through on the critical projects identified in the plan, and delivering services at the levels approved. 

As we advance through the list we will continue to advocate for alternative sources of revenue and grants with which to advance Council's Strategic priorities"   -- Chief Financial Officer/Deputy City Manager Corinne Bomben

The written report which you can review from the Agenda from Monday evening starting at page 25 included a chart that outlines the range of the tax burden for rate payers for 2022.

click to enlarge

The Financial planning themes of the night can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive with the Audited Statements portion of the review starting at the 8 minute mark, the approval of the Financial Plan and Property Tax increase can be viewed at the 18 minute mark.

A full review of the City's Budget Process can be explored through our archive page here.

More notes on Monday's City Council Session can be reviewed from our Council Timeline Feature.


  1. Sell off Citywest
    - They can't keep up using second hand Shaw tech from 15 years ago and claim they are innovative.
    - Anybody who has moved to Prince Rupert will tell you that Shaw and Telus are light years ahead.
    - Anybody who has moved away from Prince Rupert, will brag about their ability to have a choice
    - Consumers expect to be able to change services self serve online, not just Monday to Friday 9-5 over the phone.
    - Citywest does not have a WIFI solution like Shaw, and they do not offer seniors discounts like Telus.
    - Rogers and Shaw will merge, which will put additional pressure on rural independent ISP's
    - Starlink is beta testing in Canada, which will be the standard by the end of the decade. Meanwhile Citywest will have a bunch of cable on the ocean floor.
    - Yes there is an annual six figure stipend to the city, but what does that stipend cost in relation to taxpayer servicing Citywest debt? Plus that stipend is reduced considering Citywest charges Cityhall six figures for telecom services each year.

  2. Councilor - How's that downtown revitalization tax exemption program going?
    CFO - You mean the downtown revitalization tax exemption program that we introduced in 2020?
    Councilor - Yeah, the one that was supposed be really effective in revitalizing our downtown. How many applications do we have, and how much revenue are we seeing?
    CFO - We have one application, and we do not know what level of exemption they will apply for because it was for paint and a lock for their front door.

    It's like reading a script from Parks and Recreation.