Friday, April 7, 2017

With Special Session set for Tuesday, City Council to consider increasing mill rate for 2017 to 2.25 percent

It seems that Prince Rupert City Council has a floating approach as to when they will call council sessions, with a notice posted to the City website today that notes a Special Regular Council session is now scheduled for Tuesday, April 11th at 7 PM.

Council had previously cancelled their Regular Council session set for Monday April 3rd, with no information provided as to why the scheduled meeting had been abandoned. That decision marked the second time this year that Council has cancelled a regular council session.

According to the short agenda item posted to the city's website, Tuesday's session has been called to review the recommendation to incorporate a recommended mill rate increase of 2.25 percent into the 2017 Five Year Financial Plan and related Property tax bylaw.

That would now make for an increase from the original plan previously outlined for the public for a 1.5 percent increase to the mill rate.

The City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben addresses the increase in a background piece for the City Manager ahead of the Tuesday meeting.

The document for Council indicates that the financial impact of the snow of February and March will require the city to seek more money from tax payers, just in case the end of this year provides for another surprise from Mother Nature.

Ms. Bomben's notes for Mr. Long and council read as follows:

"Given the consistency with which the snow fell, and the need to keep the public streets and sidewalks clear, our work force was tasked with working long hours and our equipment was put to repetitive use. The final financial implications of Mother Nature became clear in the latter part of March resulting in a need to increase the 2017 budget figures to provide room in the budget for possible snow removal and ice control at the end of 2017. The result is an increase in the budget of $100,000 for snow and ice control."

On the theme of the unusual weather of last month she also outlined how the city may approach such contingencies in the future:

"Given that the weather is difficult to budget for, staff will be bringing forward a plan to establish a reserve fund for heavier snowfall events so as to minimize the impact to future budget years and enable greater certainty for the taxpayers."

The CFO also had some notes related to the nature of the final property assessment numbers as of March 31st.

"Staff received the final property assessment values on March 31, 2017. The result is a downwards change in assessment values totaling $5,000,000 93% of which was changed in the residential class."

Those elements now contribute to the need for City Council to seek the additional 0.75 percent and increase the ask of the public to 2.25 per cent on the mill rate for 2017.

The letter for Council can be viewed below:
(click on images to expand)

The launch of the process to increase taxes is the only item noted on the Agenda for the Tuesday evening meeting, you can review it here.

The Tuesday session being a Regular Special Session of Council, it will be open to the public and broadcast through Channel 10 and online, allowing us all to hear how Council members feel about the revised calculations that could deliver the tax increase ahead.

More items related to the City's Budget process can be found here.

While notes on issues of note from City Council can be found on our archive page.

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