In response to Mr. Hamilton’s ‘What would Rupert do without the PRPA’ op-ed:
Last week, Mr. Hamilton published an opinion piece where he stated that, “… after years of unrealistic demands, ignorant accusations and, if one were to look closely enough, extreme fiscal miscalculation by the City of Prince Rupert, a cheque to the tune of $5.3 million for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) will be entering our city’s coffers.”
The Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) process is a complicated matter. However, Mr. Hamilton’s assessment of the PILT Agreement is factually inaccurate. Firstly, as indicated in the joint release provided by the City and the Port, we would like to clarify that $4.3 million has already been paid to the City over the last three years (based on the initial appraisal by the Port’s independent assessor), and that the additional $1 million represents a negotiated settlement, totaling $5.3 million over the three year period 2013-2015.
The facts are these: All un-leased Port land is subject to PILT, or “Payments in Lieu of Taxes.” Payments are made to the City year by year based on the value of what those lands are worth. The City and Port had previously disagreed on the assessed values of the lands, but have settled those differences and are going forward with a clarified method of valuation guided by the BC Assessment office, thereby providing better certainty for both parties.
Contrary to Mr. Hamilton’s assertions, there is nothing ‘unrealistic’, ‘ignorant’ or ‘miscalculated’ about advocating for a process that enables improved certainty around fiscal planning.
To have a disagreement with the Port is not to deny the value provided to the community in terms of employment, community investment, and economic impact. The City and Port have complementary visions for Prince Rupert – both taking into account the need for a diversified Port economy and the positive impacts to employment and the local economy generally.
Out of respect for these shared interests, we have additionally agreed to match $1.5 million each in funds for a mutually-agreed upon infrastructure project. This is in recognition of the fact that in the face of projected growth, we can pool our resources to reach the greatest overall benefit for Prince Rupert.
While I respect his right to an opinion, Mr. Hamilton has overlooked that this agreement provides significant good to the entire community. It signals leadership on behalf of both the City and the Port to resolve past differences and move forward in a spirit of mutual respect. Although change does not happen overnight, true partnership with community stakeholders will be our path to a successful future in this new century of opportunity.
Mayor Lee Brain