City hall is reaching in our pockets...Again!


#1

thenorthernview.com/news/251571991.html

Something must be done at city hall. This government keeps taking and taking but is not giving anything to justify their positions.


#2

When you look at your ever-increasing tax bill, remember this: at least Terrace and Kitimat has great internet & cable service thanks to Prince Rupert taxpayers!


#3

Grrrrrrrrrr. I will remember come election time in November. :smile:


#4

[quote=“Green Bastard”]http://www.thenorthernview.com/news/251571991.html

Something must be done at city hall. This government keeps taking and taking but is not giving anything to justify their positions.[/quote]

Oh don’t worry, this is just the opening round of the discussion, there will still be the super secret final option.

The one no one will ever hear about, until Council has decided on it.

Remember last year?

northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … -four.html


#5

We can grumble and complain all we want and we can threaten to do something at election time as if it will matter, but Shaun has it right.

thenorthernview.com/opinion/250814061.html

Anybody planning on being at City Hall on Monday?


#6

[quote=“DWhite”]

Anybody planning on being at City Hall on Monday?[/quote]

Not able to make it, but I’m confident that you’ll do a good job passing on some of our concerns. Look forward to your report back.


#7

This council seems out of touch with reality…talk of two less RCMP and NO mention of our BLOATED fire dept!WTF? I agree with less cops but it should a lot more than two…we are half the population we were 10 years ago but still have way too many officers.Contract out garbage and most city works projects.9 yh ave was a joke,and look at the work being done between Graham and Atlin!


#8

Don’t forget eliminating the $900K subsidy for the airport ferry. That would almost balance the budget by itself. Some frequent travellers will complain, but they’ll get over it.


#9

[quote=“BTravenn”]

[quote=“DWhite”]

Anybody planning on being at City Hall on Monday?[/quote]

Not able to make it, but I’m confident that you’ll do a good job passing on some of our concerns. Look forward to your report back.[/quote]

I am actually planning to attend if for no other reason than to see who else shows up.

But this is the problem. I am not a spokesperson for a group. My concerns are not necessarily the same as yours or anybody else’s. I don’t profess to be an expert on the sale of citywest or the elimination of the ferry subsidy or the cutting of the fire or police departments or the contracting out of garbage or city projects. Mig or you or saltybear or green bastard will have to carry that ball.

For the most part, I am not a complainer about taxes, but it does seem strange that a government can raise its rates by 10% in one year with further hefty increases over the next couple of years when everybody else is lucky if they get a cost of living increase of 1 or 2%.

I have one simple question:

How has revenue gone down so much or how have expenses gone up so much to justify this increase?


#10

[quote=“DWhite”]
For the most part, I am not a complainer about taxes, but it does seem strange that a government can raise its rates by 10% in one year with further hefty increases over the next couple of years when everybody else is lucky if they get a cost of living increase of 1 or 2%.

I have one simple question:

How has revenue gone down so much or how have expenses gone up so much to justify this increase?[/quote]

Excellent questions, DWhite. I cannot make the meeting. I will be curious to hear what the council members say about this.


#11

[quote=“BTravenn”]

[quote=“DWhite”]

Anybody planning on being at City Hall on Monday?[/quote]

Not able to make it, but I’m confident that you’ll do a good job passing on some of our concerns. Look forward to your report back.[/quote]

If people are interested…

I went to the council meeting last night (7:00) and sat through a public session on a development at the end of Graham Avenue, some questions from the public on the civic centre, traffic concerns, and ferry cuts (thought my question might have been asked at this time but nope) and then a report from someone representing BC Housing before questions about the budget could be asked at around 8:30.

My question, more or less, was the one I asked here the other day.

Option One proposes a tax increase of 10% this year and a total of about 25% over three years while the cost of living increases are around 1 or 2%

[quote=“DWhite”]
How has revenue gone down so much or how have expenses gone up so much to justify this increase?[/quote]

Ms Bomben listed several areas where expenses have increased totally approximately $1.5M.

I responded that I understood that expenses would go up but that if my taxes were going up 10.2%, then that means every item in the budget should be going up averaging 10.2% and was that the case?

Mr. Long pointed out that it was more complicated than that and gave a bit of an explanation. I was about to ask a clarification question but somebody moved that the order of business be changed so Ms Bomben could give her report to council before further questions from the public.

Ms Bomben’s report was enlightening. Again I am no expert here, but I will try my best.

To begin with, she pointed out that we cannot just use one item eg mill rate to compare cities. We have a much higher mill rate than Prince George but they also have a much higher average assessed property value so our taxes are only slightly higher, not significantly higher as the mill rate might indicate.

Option One was based on the assumption that the Port would not be paying what the city feels would be its fair share of Payment in Lieu of Taxes. There has been differences of opinion on the value and staff felt it was more realistic to budget for a lower amount given the history.

Much of the rate that Prince Rupert can charge for industrial use has been capped by senior governments - I think because it is on port property - whereas places like Kitimat can charge a much higher rate. Because of that, Kitimat gets a much greater % of its revenue from industrial use than we can.

Realizing that Option One does not appear - I think Ms Bomben’s word was - “palatable”, staff is now recommending Option Three which is an increase of 3% per year for the next five years. Option Three assumes that the Port will pay what the city believes its fair share of Payment in Lieu.

I was then asked if I had any more questions given this information. I did. It was the clarity question that I was going to ask earlier. “Does this mean that any increases in expenses incurred by the city have to be borne more heavily by homeowners because the city is limited in its ability to raise taxes on industry?” Apparently that is the case.

My last question was what the city could do to lobby senior governments so that the caps in place can be changed. I believe they are working on it.

End of report.

Sort of…

Some of you may not like the answers I received or even the questions I asked. I am not yet sure if I like the questions I asked or the answers I got. I take my time to mull.

However, if you want to get more information from council go to the meeting and ask the questions. The process is not as intimidating as I thought it would be.


#12

So did they say anything about the $1.5 million extra they are getting this year?The mill rate stays the same and taxes go up!!!Who the hell is in charge?I watched part of the meeting till I could not listen any more!Once again,get rid of half a dozen RCMP,half of the fire dept as I have said MANY times,follow Terrace and we will save over $2 million!!!Get some Balls folks!


#13

Ever wonder Rupert’s crime rate is among the worst in Canada? Yeah, cutting the RCMP is a very bright idea.

We all know you hate firefighters.


#14

An interesting report from DWhite about the budget discussions.

The Northern View reports that councillor Ashley suggested increasing the airport ferry fare to eliminate a projected $900,000 taxpayer subsidy of the service.

thenorthernview.com/news/252267121.html

Eliminating that subsidy would bring the budget close to being in balance.

That would be the case even if the Port - which evidently prefers to contemplate spending public funds on a retail/office development in Cow Bay rather than a fair payment in lieu of taxes to the City - pays less than what the City is looking for. While the province has capped the mill rate applicable to Port lands, the real issue is that the Port has been basing its’ payment on its’ own low ball assessment rather than on BC Assessment values (hence the $2 million interim settlement after the City took the Port’s assessment to mediation).

Not surprisingly, His Worship and (I’m disappointed to add) councillor Garon responded with shock and horror to the suggestion that the airport ferry should move towards a user pay model, saying that a ferry fare increase would cause passenger ‘leakage’. They say that passengers would be pushed away to Terrace.

Now the funny thing with that theory is that in 2010 the City increased the one way passenger fare from $14 to $19, but between 2010 and 2013 airport usage increased from 54,350 to 60,914, a 12% increase (see the airport authority web site).

In any event, a Northern View reader offers some interesting comments about airport ferry fares:

“I am pretty sure what is “pushing people away” from the Prince Rupert Airport is the lack of available flights/airlines, the ferry/bus trip itself, the conditions of our airport and less the actual cost…a family of four is already paying approx $2000 to $2400 for those tickets to Vancouver, so to imply that a family will suddenly not use Prince Rupert because they have to fork over another $60 bucks is far fetched…especially when the other option, a 10.2% tax increase on their home, is going to cost them a hell of a lot more.”

Also interesting is an apparent hardening of attitudes towards Citywest, with talk around the council table about pushing for a larger dividend than the $250,000 that is in the plans. Of course, the council does not need to push. As the shareholder the City has the power under Citywest’s bylaws to direct the payment of a dividend to the City. Councillor Ashley held out the possibility of a “cost/benefit analysis” of Citywest, a suggestion that His Worship expressed some support for. That should cause some trepidation I think in the inner sanctum of the peoples telecom.

The bottom line of DWhite’s questions appears to be that it is residential taxpayers that are bearing the brunt of tax increases, rather than the commercial/industrial sector. It appears though that more particularly it is the Port, Citywest and airport ferry subsidies that are the real culprits in all of this.


#15

Excellent report, DWhite. Thanks a lot for going to the meeting and asking your questions. :smile:


#16

I see now that the budget was discussed after I left the meeting at 9:30. It appeared that they had gone on to other topics and with a brain approaching mush I figured it was time to leave.

I do have another question that perhaps can be answered here.

If I am not mistaken the road to the ferry is considered highway and the responsibility of the province. The road on Digby takes us to an airport so shouldn’t it be considered a necessary part of our highway system? Again if I am not mistaken, the ferries that cross Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake which take longer than the Digby ferry are completely subsidized by the province. Do we get any subsidy from the province for our unique but necessary ferry system?


#17

[quote=“DWhite”]

If I am not mistaken the road to the ferry is considered highway and the responsibility of the province. The road on Digby takes us to an airport so shouldn’t it be considered a necessary part of our highway system? Again if I am not mistaken, the ferries that cross Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake which take longer than the Digby ferry are completely subsidized by the province. Do we get any subsidy from the province for our unique but necessary ferry system?[/quote]

There is no mention in the City’s financials of a ferry subsidy. The Ministry operates Inland Ferries at no charge, but the islands on the coast, including Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, are generally a BC Ferries issue, where the government’s goal is that the service will operate without subsidies. In those examples people live on the islands, while the short stretch of highway on Digby just accesses the airport.

The likelihood of the government subsidizing the airport ferry is remote.

I notice that the YPR website does not even show the cost of a one way passenger fare on the ferry; it just says that it is included in the ticket price for the flight. I doubt if many people other than the council members would notice if the ferry fare was increased to eliminate the taxpayer subsidy.

Of course doing that would mean slaying a sacred cow, and there is great reluctance to do that. The same goes for taking a more realistic approach to Citywest. A $250,000 dividend is less than a 1% return on the City’s investment in the telecom, and last year there was no return.


#18

My understanding is that the road on Digby island is a MOT road and is considered a private roadway.


#19

Citywest and the Port are directly responsible for the mess City Hall is in…Citywest needs to be taken to task over its astronomical tax-payer funded loan that has NOT been repaid and the Port (while a huge benefit to this city) needs to stop raping its resources for pennies in return.


#20

Let’s no forget that we are still paying for the mistakes of past Councils. Specifically, the decisions around spending expected pulp mill tax revenue that never ended up being paid to the city and a million dollar cruise ship dock that 10 years later sits idle.

A couple of other points…

  1. AnnaA, you are my hero. I appreciate the tough questions and looking outside of the box in trying to generate revenue and trying to provide some sort of relief to residential taxpayers.

  2. Port activities put an immense strain on our community. Increased truck traffic through our city streets, the use of our water and sewer, as well as the need for the police and fire department to be prepared for issues related to port activities. I’ve always felt that the port is an ally of the community if not it’s best friend at the moment. With that said though, they need to provide the city with fair compensation for their use of our services and infrastructure. They rely on the city as much as the city relies on them so it’s time to be a good partner in business and ante up.