CityWest has ambitious expansion plans, but will cost outrun revenue?

There are some in Prince Rupert who swear their Internet runs much too slow, some Digital Cable subscribers have some channels that were on the list that have yet to appear and the formerly rather reliable cell service has suddenly become like a commercial from the States, where customers frequently are asking “can you hear me yetâ€

Any word on when they plan to cut a dividend cheque to the city?

Yeah it’s too bad.  I usually find the internet speed okay for me…
The cell service did not offer all the features but was very realible… 
Digital Cable does not interest me…  but sorry to hear it’s not right either…
Guess they expanded too fast or it simply proved more of a challenge then first thought?
Did City West put out a new phone book? Usually that occurs on Dec 1 … Maybe they got so focused else where they forgot?  Hope they fix the cell phone problems!!

The five million dollar man himself advised that CityWest paid $1million for the 2006 dividend in May of 2007 and will be paying a further $1million dollar dividend for 2007 - but I’m not clear on whether or when this will be received. They apparently plan on upping dividends to $2milion dollars starting with fiscal 2008 meaning the dividend will likely be received in 2009 if and the operative word is “IF” CityWest has the means to pay.

A couple of things about this is concerning… first the five million dollar man being the CAO of the city and the Chairman of CityWest is presumably the link between the financial reporting of the city and CityWest. In the City’s financial report for December 31,2006 the city reported it had recorded a dividend of $1million dollar for 2006 expected in May 2007 and further expected CityWest to pay a further $1million dollar dividend for fiscal 2006  at a later date. (Notes to City of Prince Rupert’s Financial Statements, note 6 page 43)

In CityWest’s financial statements for the same date December 31, 2006 there was no accrual for the 2006 dividend and the notes to CityWest statements indicate a plan to budget dividends of $2million dollars in 2007 at the discretion of the directors and only if budgeted goals are achieved. In short, two statements drawn off at the same time under the supervision of our very own $5million dollar man are saying different things. 

The city expected a $2million dollar dividend for Citywest’s 2006 fiscal year end and presumably expected the same thing for fiscal 2007 which adds up to $4 million dollars.

CityWest on the other hand has only budgeted for a 2007 dividend of $2million dollars and nothing for 2006 or $2million dollars in total.

Anyone with experience in higher tech capital extensive business knows that a major expansion plans generally places huge demands on a company’s cash resources and borrowing power even without competition to worry about. The dividend projection of $2million dollars a year commencing in 2008 sounds like more like wishful thinking than realistic planning. The mobility division of City West is the one that contributed 1.7million dollars to CityWest’s total earnings of 2.7 million in 2006. Will this be sustainable in 2008 with Rogers and others entering the market?  Especially when the two main thrusts of your marketing plan for expansion and protecting your existing base are;

  1. Bundled pricing
  2. Encouraging northwest consumers to buy local

I’m not sure how effective bundled pricing will be when it is for a line up of second rate product delivery as per the Podunkian blog comments ask any Rupert business owner on the propensity of Rupertonians to buy locally and you’ll be laughed out of their store. Somehow I can’t see consumers in other northwest communities acting much differently to CityWest than Rupertonians. In short… I’m not holding my breath as I watch the city’s remaining major and marketable asset lose value.

It is extremely disappointing that this comes at the same time Rupert citizens who already pay the second highest utility fees in the province are bracing for compounding 5% increases in their water and sewer fees over the next three years… (likely 20% once compounding is factored in).  I have to agree with Joy Thorkleson when she voted against the fee increase… paraphrasing her sentiments… unless budgets are presented to support revenue grabs… we are operating in the dark.  I would only add to her comments…

It would be nice to see realistic and balanced budgets from the five million dollar gang on Third Avenue. The CityWest purchase of Monarch was completed without a referendum as the then sitting council used the smoke and mirrors tactic of spinning CityTel off to a separate company to avoid a referendum and to avoid public debate.  Perhaps it is time to show His worship Herb participatory democracy by calling for a public debate on keeping or selling CityWest? At least get the facts out in an informed forum before we watch millions more dollars squandered by our elected representatives.

Good post!!

I’ve felt for sometime now that the city should consider selling this asset.  It is difficult to swallow increased fees, taxes and yet another increase to utilities when the city has this major asset that is really providing very little in return at this point.  Maybe in 10 years time City West will prove me wrong by competing and holding it’s own against the big boys while providing some signifigant cash revenue to the city.  In the meantime, I feel that they are taking some huge risks and loading even more onto the families who need some financial relief.  Should the city be in the telephone business for the long haul or be doing it’s best to provide some tax relief to it’s residents, repair infrastructure and restore services now?

I agree with both the two latest posts.  If any of you watched the Council meeting last night, it was pretty evident that neither the Council or staff have a clue how to financially balance a budget or recognize a deficit from a reserve or surplus.  I also find it interesting that the Province has failed to take this Council to task on draining the water and sewer reserve funds to put it into the operating budget, without holding them accountable for their actions.  Furthermore, if you someone were to ask the how much money they actually have in reserve accounts - the answer would be zero; its only on paper.  In respect to CityWest, it should have been sold 4 years ago, and the money put toward what is really needed here - new infrastructure. 

It was interesting to watch Council last night when Larry Golden asked about the Administrator’s wife and what she was doing and how much she was being paid.  Our Major quickly changed the topic and focused only on what a great 2006 financial report was done.  I say lets not forget that elections are just around the corner and we need to clean house and put the right people in these seats…

i save 15.00 dollars each month for having every service citytel has… what savings…lol…

It’ s my understanding that many of the staff at City Hall do not know what she is doing either and although she is getting paid, she is never seen.