Tax increases are the fault of City Hall - not BC Assessment

Did anyone watch the GONG show which was city council? They were talking about taxes,what a bunch of idiots…Mr Cunningham was the only one that got it!!Taxes are going up!

If you all only knew of the colossal waste of money that goes on at the city works maintenance yard you would be flaberghasted AUDIT!!!

How many of you have seen the new zamboni that was purchased working in the arena? I havent seen it for months. Why, because its broken and no one knows how to fix it!
How many of you have seen the new wheeled excavator that the city purchased to the tune of 300,000 plus being put to work? not me its too high to fit under the power lines, so we must rent a machine from local contractors at additional cost. How about installing new tires on trucks because they are not the prefered brand? Corruption Corruption Corruption! time for a provincial audit of this joke of a city hall and its associated counciling clowns!

And another thing! If taxes must rise, give us the reasons. utilites have risen and will continue to rise. There have been no upgrades to the roads, water or sewage system in the entire town. The garbage collection has not changed from previous years and the land fill hours are the same as they were. so where have the extra cost come from that must be accounted for with an increase? Show us what you have done cityhall and justify this additional expense to every business and property owner in Prince Rupert. If you cant justify this to the tax payer, it is time to cut internally and reduce the tax burden on our hard working citizens.

can we say wage increases for city workers are on the way?

Yes, according to this blow by blow of the council meeting by North Coast Review < … er-up.html > there will be $605,000 worth of increases in wages and benefits.

More troubling, though, is that city taxpayers appear to be in for an 8% increase in property taxes, but management, with the apparent support of the Mayor, appear to be making an earnest effort to attribute that to increases in property assessments rather than conscious decision-making.

The traditional approach is that the City prepares a budget, then divides the total to be collected from taxpayers by the total assessed value of all properties to arrive at a mill rate, ie the taxes charged per $1000 of assessed value, with adjustments for different classes of property. There is, of course, no necessary reason why increases in assessed value have to result in tax increases. Assessed values could go up and taxes could go down if the city council adjusted the mill rate accordingly.

The theory presented to the council, though, is that the council can just keep the mill rate where it was last year and since assessed values have gone up 8% tax revenues will automatically go up. The message appears to be, in the double speak of City hall, that if you are not happy with tax increases you can blame your assessment, not the council.

If you complain to BC Assessment, though, they will emphatically tell you that they have nothing to do with setting taxes; municipalities set whatever mill rate they want. Or maybe the message is that if your taxes go up you can blame market economics rather than anyone in particular.

Councillor Garon commented that she was confused by the presentation, which prompted a sharpish remark from Mayor. Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham weighed in and to their credit agreed that a workshop to more fully consider these technical issues would be helpful.

It’s all quite simple though. If the council does not change the mill rate to offset the implications of higher assessments, they will not have maintained the status quo; they will have increased your property taxes by 8%, which is quite a lot.

Once again we are being held hostage by the COPS(RCMP) and our overpriced fire our costs with Terrace to see what a ripoff this really is.We really need a group of pissed off tax payers to take them (city hall) to task!

So, what your saying is that the mill rate for 2012, … 0Bylaw.pdf

that was adjusted for a 1.5% increase in taxes, is going to be voted on staying the same for 2013 so the city can receive an 8% increase? Will council even vote? Can someone in council make a motion to change the tax bylaw of 2012?

Or, Is this just an easy way to increase our taxes by 8% and blame it on the Assessments?

What ever they decide I am not going to see much change as my assessment dropped…

[quote=“katray”]So, what your saying is that the mill rate for 2012, … 0Bylaw.pdf

that was adjusted for a 1.5% increase in taxes, is going to be voted on staying the same for 2013 so the city can receive an 8% increase? Will council even vote? Can someone in council make a motion to change the tax bylaw of 2012?

Or, Is this just an easy way to increase our taxes by 8% and blame it on the Assessments?

What ever they decide I am not going to see much change as my assessment dropped…[/quote]

Yes, that is what I’m saying. The rates in the 2012 tax bylaw only applied for 2012. The council has to pass an annual financial plan (which is really a 5 year rolling plan) setting out objectives and policies, then they pass an annual taxation bylaw. The council has to vote, just as they do on any other bylaw. When setting tax rates they must consider the goals and objectives in the plan.

< … section197 >.

So the council makes a deliberate decision about what the rates will be and how much taxes they will collect. They cannot simply say that property taxes went up 8% but that was not their doing because assessments went up.

How much individual owners pay is always dependent on the assessment for their particular property. For some the increase will be less than 8% while for others it will be more, but the average will be an 8% increase.

By holding the mill rate at the 2012 rate the City will collect an additional $1.4 million from taxpayers. The narrative that is being developed is that really the City is not changing anything; it’s a “status quo budget”. Remember that when you get your tax bill in the mail.

And looking over the numbers again, $940,000 will be for wage and benefit increases and “staffing changes and increase in complement”.

It’s also interesting to see that $250,000 is expected from Citywest. Since the company was formed, expectations have dropped from $2 million a year to $1 million to $500,000 to $250,000. Perhaps in a year or two it will be acknowledged that Citywest really cannot afford to pay anything.

It looks like it will be a 10% increase in taxes.
I attached a screen shot of the Feb. 24 agenda budget presentation. The city expects to collect $1,395,000 (market change) more in taxes in next year’s budget with current tax collection being $14,050,196 (existing).

I am no expert on city budgets and tax assessments and mill rates. But I understand this much.

In the late '90’s, earlier 2000s, tax assessments (property value) dropped by around 30%. There was no corresponding drop in taxes. The mill rate was adjusted upward to allow the city to get the revenue it needed.

I don’t mind paying taxes. I don’t even mind seeing taxes increase as long as the increase can be justified. But, I would like the responsibility for the increase to lie with the decision makers rather than blaming one number in the process while ignoring the other.

To be fair though, councillors Garon and Thorkelson have questioned the process. It is not yet a done deal unlike - I know I am off topic - the provincial government who said they balanced a budget without raising taxes (just rates, fees, and premiums) and said they balanced the budget while still increasing the provincial debt.

But hey, we have a civic election in a about eight months and a federal election next year, and a provincial election in three years, and we can save up all our anger and vote them … or something.

[quote=“jees”]It looks like it will be a 10% increase in taxes.
… The city expects to collect $1,395,000 (market change) more in taxes in next year’s budget with current tax collection being $14,050,196 (existing).[/quote]

It’s interesting that the proposed budget refers to the proposed $1,395,000 tax increase as a “market change”, when the market does not change anything. Only the council determines how much the City collects, by considering planned expenditures and then passing a bylaw to authorize the applicable tax rates. It’s like they’re being sold a form of voodoo economics, where market forces are supposed to prevail.

I cautiously share DWhite’s optimism that the councillors will figure it out.

So the city is giving their employees a nearly 1 million dollar raise? Is this seriously correct?

How can these type of increases CONTINUE to happen in this city in the face of such high taxes. Its time for the city to start making some serious staffing cuts…its beyond ridiculous.

Salty Bear

What would you like to cut? Over the years, I have watched the budget process and I have actually gone down to City Hall and talked to the people who work there. A year ago, when I paid my taxes I saw a Property Tax Schedule that compared the municipal tax burden in Prince Rupert with that of other municipalities. It was pretty sobering. Yes, we do pay taxes, but the amount we pay is pretty much in line with the size of our municipality and the amenities that we support.

However, like Mr Traven, I am concerned about the cynicism that is being displayed either Council or/or City Staff by saying that there will be in excess of $1 million in additional tax revenue due to the increase in property values. It seems that they are then trying to pass the increase in tax revenue off as the responsibility of BC Assessment.

If this is the case, then they should be collectively ashamed of themselves. The people of Prince Rupert are not that dumb. Certainly, Mr. Long, Ms. Bomben, and Mayor Jack should know better - they all have years of experience. With regard to the rest of them, words cannot express how I feel (well actually they can, but I am not inclined libel people) about this Council which ran on a platform of increased transparency. Suffice to say, I am appalled at their behaviour.

Years ago, I contacted the former CFO Dan Rodin regarding how the mill rate was determined. He explained to me that he adjusted downward, the mill rate by increase in market value (property inflation) for each property classification. That way, the same amount of taxes would be collected even the average value of properties increased. For example, if we assume that the average property value increased by lets say 10%, then if your property increased by 10% then once the mill rate was adjusted, you would not pay any more taxes. However, if your property increased by more than 10% then you would pay additional taxes. On the other hand, if your property did not increase by 10% then you would pay less taxes.

Once the mill rate was adjusted, Council was then advised as to how much additional tax revenue was needed. Council would then debate the tax increase and then, depending on whether they thought a tax increase was necessary, they would pass an across - the - board percentage tax increase on each property classification.

I hope Council rethinks this whole idea, and ceases to blame BC Assessment. I cannot believe that they need that much additional money to balance the budget. They say they getting $250,000 from City West, and we all have heard that the Port is now paying more PILT than they used to. So why the need for more tax revenue?

Huh, who knew?

You people in Prince Rupert pay a large tax relative to your your property values, and this board has had a lot of debate over why that is and what is wasted spending, so I won’t go down that path and I don’t live there anymore so it doesn’t affect me. But the attached table is sobering. Granted it is 4 years old, but I would bet the numbers aren’t that different. … -288/4957/


Crazy Horse

Thanks for providing the link to the schedule. I am not sure, but I think the schedule I saw only showed the taxes levied by the municipality and it looked a bit better. In Prince Rupert, as well as BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority, we have two Hospital Districts (I am not sure why), the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, and finally the Municipality. City Council only has direct control over the Municipal Property Tax Levy.

I’ve often wished we were not part of the SQCRD. If you look at their budget, people in Prince Rupert pay the vast majority of the administration costs, and we get very little back for our contribution.

Hopefully, the newspaper can ask a few questions about the City’s budget this year, and a few questions about the SQCRD. It is too bad the paper seems to be more interested in writing “puff pieces” about how well the port authority is doing.


please move this thread from “General Chat” to the Prince Rupert category

I agreed. We need to sell City West. The sooner the better. I hope that the issue comes up in the next municipal election.

I don’t think that CityWest has a hope in hell in competing against the major players in the provision of anything. Witness the loss of the the cell phone business. Citywest is simply too small.

Also, if the CRTC follows the American model, eventually, CityWest will be required to allow other service providers to use its’ internet cable (okay they will get a bit money charging a fee - but not that much). It is expected that the companies in the market who will really be making money will be the providers of content. Witness the investment that NETFLIX plans this year. $3 billion on TV and film content.

Right now you can buy a LG Smart Tv for about $400 - $500 and plug it into your internet cable. You pay $8.00 per month for NETFLIX. If you go this way, you will never again buy cable tv from CityWest.

So, I say, lets sell it. If we realize $30 million on the sale and we bought dividend stock that paid a 3% dividend, we would get around $900,000 a year in dividends. This is a heck of a lot better than what we have been getting in the past 4 years and probably alot more than we can anticipate to receive in the next 5 years. If the Directors of City West think that the company has a great financial future - fine, they can buy it from the City. Sixty years ago, there was a need for phone service in Prince Rupert and no one else wanted to supply it. That context no longer exists.

I like the people at CityWest, but as a taxpayer, I am not interested in providing them with a job at the expense of my property taxes. The guys at the fire department and ferry, well, they do provide a service which I do not think can be replaced. As far as I am concerned, someone else can provide phone, cable and internet service along Highway 16. It does not have to be the taxpayers of Prince Rupert!

It is quite comical that City Hall is trying to make it seem like the tax increase this year of 1.4 million is the fault of BC Assessment and NOT them…that is quite ridiculous and insulting to the intelligence of Prince Rupert tax payers.

Rather than adjust the mill rate down to a level that would keep taxes in line with previous years, City Hall is planing to keep the mill rate at the same level as last year, thus triggering a tax increase for each taxpayer that is equivalent to the percentage of how much their property assessment went up…for some people this = a 20% hike over last years taxes, which is OUTRAGEOUS!

How the mayor can sit there and tell us tax payers to blame BC Assessment, is just plain as day idiotic and incredibly insulting. The buck starts and ends with City Hall…they could easily adjust the mill rate modestly to lessen the blow for some homeowners…there is really no acceptable reason for them to not try an keep taxes near the same level they were last year.

The city should take note of what happened in Kitimat last year when their assessments shot through the roof…their council and mayor reduced the city’s mill rate to ensure tax payers would not be cut off at the knees!

I urge everyone to contact City Hall and make sure they are well aware that you will not be played for a fool and that we as taxpayers are not blind to what the city is trying to do here.

I voted for Jack Mussallem in the last election…but I certainly will be ready to show him (and anyone else on council who supports this blame shifting) the door in November…his blatant disregard for this city’s homeowners is appalling and is the last straw for this taxpayer.

I have been reading the pages of HTMF for about 3 years now. It’s amazing that my outrage has triggered me to post for the first time. This is a shell game that has insulted the tax payers of Prince Rupert. It’s fair to assume our elected officials lurk the pages of our online rag to gauge the public perception. Hopefully they will read our dismay with their decision making and rethink their position on not to lower the mill rate accordingly. If that doesn’t happen, the only thing left in my arsenal is my vote. Shame on them!