Thursday, August 3, 2017

City Council needs but three minutes towards the path of expropriation

Council hosted a short three minute Special Regular Council session on
Wednesday, putting in motion their amendments to the city's 2017 Financial Plan

The first of two meetings this week to move forward with Prince Rupert City Council's plans for expropriation of a piece of land owned by Sun Wave Forest properties, took less than three minutes to put in motion.

In their Wednesday Special Council Session, Council members heard a brief recap of the proposal from the City's Financial officer Corinne Bomben and then Mayor Lee Brain and the four councillors in attendance (Councillors Mirau and Thorkelson were absent) provided first, second and third readings to the amendment for the City's Financial Plan for 2017.

As part of her presentation Ms. Bomben provided the background to the key elements for the amendment in front of Council.

The proposed amendment is to fund the cost of expropriating Lot 4 on Watson Island through the use of land acquisition reserves and the professional architect and engineering design costs for the modification to the existing RCMP cell blocks through the use of short term debt.  There is no change to the 2017 Property taxes by way of this amendment. The total change in budgeted expenditures is  575,000 dollars.

A short period for comments first called for on Friday, came to an end just prior to the Wednesday meeting. And from that call for comments, Corinne Bomben, the City's CFO noted that city staff had received only one comment, that by email.

She addressed the three questions that were raised through that correspondence.

1. -- What are the reserves this funding is coming from?
Answer  -- Land acquisition reserves, these funds are specifically utilized for land and capital asset purchases as designated under the Community Charter. The reserve is made up of sale proceeds from city land that was sold in the past.

2. -- Will we see taxpayers paying this bill?
Answer -- The loan for the cell block redesign will be paid by taxpayers unless other sources of funds can be obtained to reduce the overall tax burden, the cost will be spread out over five years. The land acquisition will not impact the taxpayers.

3. -- Is there any federal funding for the RCMP redesign
Answer -- No, the municipality is required to provide the building and components that the RCMP use.

The only question from Council members in the three minute window for discussion came from Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa, who inquired about the prospect of future budget changes and potential tax increases for city residents in the years to come.

A question to which the city's CFO observed that "we are working diligently to hopefully bring in other sources of funding so we can mitigate any taxpayer impacts"

As for any review on the topic of the need for the expropriation of the land, or any future plans for the Watson Island industrial site, that apparently was not a theme up for discussion by the Council members on a warm Wednesday evening.

You can review the full three minutes and ten seconds of civic governance from the city's Video Archive.

Council members will perhaps try to set a new record in the quest for shortest council session in history, when the put the finishing touches to their Financial Amendment process on Friday atNoon when they host another Special Regular Council session.

For more notes related to the city's plans for Watson Island see our archive page here.

Some background information on Wednesday's Special Regular Council session can be found here.

Further background on City Council issues through the year can be examined on our Council Discussion Archive page.

UPDATE: At Friday's Special Council Session, those members in attendance for the noon hour meeting gave final approval to the Financial Plan Amendment as presented on August 2nd.

The meeting which lasted for 2 minutes and eight seconds, consisted of only four members in the Council chambers, with Mayor Brain, as well as Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson absent from Chambers for the session.

The video of the recorded vote can be reviewed below:

1 comment:

  1. This illustrates "the tyranny of small decisions". A large issue that has only been mentioned in passing - establishing a municipal port facility at Watson Island - is broken into a series of small decisions, each of which is or appears to be innocuous. The public is not consulted, though, or even well informed about, the larger issue of whether its a good idea to tie up City assets in what appears to be a commercial venture, rather than selling Watson Island and putting the proceeds into, for instance, much needed infrastructure replacements.