Contract Increases and Inflation Primary Drivers for this Year’s Proposed Increase of 7.7%
PRINCE RUPERT, NOVEMBER 6th, 2023 – The City of Prince Rupert’s Draft 2024-2028 Budget was presented at tonight’s Special Meeting, and is now available for the public to view. Public consultations have also been scheduled for November 9th (this Thursday) at Coast Mountain College and November 14th at City Hall. Both consultations will be held at 7 pm.
This year’s budget has continued to be driven by inflation which has impacted costs generally, but also contract negotiations with the City’s multiple unions, exempt contracts, and contracts with the RCMP and BC Transit.
A comprehensive breakdown of the tax rate proposed in the Draft 2024 Budget is below:
- Labour Contractual/Benefit/Training Increases – 3.97%
- Staffing Replacement and New Additions – 0.77%
- Energy/Supplies Increases due to inflation – 0.86%
- Increase to Library Funding – 0.12%
- Policing Contract increase – 1.42%
- Transit Contract Increase – 0.56%
Discretionary expenses like additional funding through community enhancement grants and the capital expense to repair the 3rd/4th Ave staircase were also presented to Council as an optional increase to the proposed rate of 0.77% and 1.07%, respectively.
Unlike other levels of Government, municipalities are not permitted to operate in a deficit, so each year we must balance the budget. After all other sources of revenue are accounted for, the above costs account for a 7.7% draft increase to the tax rate to make up the difference. This is what is proposed in order to maintain services at their existing levels, and represents an increase of $99 to the average homeowner for 2024, based on 2023 assessed values.
Rate impacts are similar to what other communities throughout BC and in the North are facing, and all efforts have been made to trim expenses not covered in other ways to reduce the tax impact. Council will now deliberate and look to the public for feedback. A final decision on the 5 Year Financial Plan will not be made until Council has the opportunity to receive public input. Tax rates driven by the plan will not be determined until the Spring after final BC Assessment values are known. (See end of release for details on consultations as well as opportunity to provide input through our budget simulation software.)
The Budget in Context
As was noted in the presentation of last year’s budget, although the tax increase is higher than desirable, the 2024 Budget includes significant capital works planned for the 2024-2028 Financial Plan. With over $140 Million in capital investment planned for 2024 alone, only $1.35 Million of that is proposed to be funded through property taxes. In addition to grants and borrowing, this has been in part achieved through dividends from Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. – revenue that has enabled several important projects to be completed with no impact to tax/rate payers. This year, dividends have offset capital and special projects by $872,000, representing an otherwise 3.71% potential tax increase. Additionally, Legacy’s support for water infrastructure this year has offset water utility fees by $1.25 Million, or a 41.67% increase.
As announced in the spring, Council and staff have also successfully advocated for an unprecedented $65 million in funding towards replacing our water distribution infrastructure, and have approved borrowing for an additional $45 Million to replace the sewer lines at the same time. We are currently awaiting a Federal decision with respect to an application for ~$80 Million, and if successful that will enable us to start on our priority replacement project for 26 km of the highest likelihood and consequence of failure pipes. More information on that work is here.
Opportunities for Input
As noted above, there are two public feedback sessions planned for November 9th and 14th at 7 pm. The first (November 9th) will be held in the Atrium room at Coast Mountain College, and the second (November 14th) will be held in Council Chambers, City Hall at 424 3rd Avenue West. The public also has the added opportunity to directly interact with and understand the proposed budget via our online budget simulation tool, which is now live via this link. Written comments can also be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org on or before November 20th, 2023. All feedback will be submitted to Council for consideration as part of their decision making processes.
The Draft 2024-2028 Five-Year Financial Plan can be viewed here.
The first Public Budget Presentation can be viewed here.
Veronika Stewart, Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development
Office: (250) 627 0976
Cell: (778) 884 6285