Prince Rupert’s financial position continues to improve, according to the 2019 audited financial statements, however, positive improvement is offset by deferred capital expenditures and COVID-19, Corrine Bomben, chief financial officer for the City of Prince Rupert said.
Bomben presented the ‘Report from the Chief Financial Officer Re: 2019 Audited Financial Statements’ at the regular city council meeting on May 25 which described some positives and some negatives.
“Though it isn’t recorded in our financial statements, the lack of reinvestment in our capital infrastructure, during our 20 year local recessionary period, has put us in a situation where much of it is long overdue for replacement,” Bomben said, “We are now playing catch up on all major assets of our infrastructure.”
“The RCMP building is required by the federal government to be replaced at our cost. The landfill’s nearly full, so a new cell is under development. Roads have been patched too many times instead of repaved to provide protection to the substrate. Water main breaks are commonplace and drive our reactive response to underground utility repair,” the CFO said.
“Every resident of Prince Rupert knows of at least an example of Parks and Recreation infrastructure that is past its service life or could be improved. This deficit in our infrastructure, that we cannot record in our financial statements, dwarfs the investment in tangible capital assets or accumulated surplus that are recorded…” Bomben reported in the meeting.
While Bomben acknowledged that this is all bad news, she said the difference, at the end of 2019 and into 2020, is that the City actually has hope of shrinking the infrastructure deficit rather than allowing it to continue to grow.
The city has held its commitment to increased spending on paving, funding the new RCMP building, proceeding with various large water projects and developing the new landfill cell, Bomben said.
Bomben said, overall the city’s financial position, as presented in the statements, has continued to improve, through the success of the Prince Rupert Legacy and income from CityWest. Increased tax revenue from new industrial investment and grant support from both senior levels of government have enabled the city to reverse the pattern of depleting cash reserves and minimal capital investment.
“This is a welcome change compared to years past.”
“If we continue pressing on to renew our city, we may actually dig out of this deficit. That is not something we could have said 10 years ago. We are making progress. And we’ll continue forward.”
The 2019 statements reflect an improved port economy, the fruition of teamwork by staff and officials to advocate for the needs of the community and that investment into city services and infrastructure pays off, Bomben said.
“Stay the course. It’s clear, it’s working.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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