If Councillor Joy Thorkelson and others on council believe that the Prince Rupert Port Authority has some kind of obligation, moral or otherwise, to help the City balance its books then they need to give their heads a shake.
Yes, the revised tax regime for port lands have resulted in a roughly $130,000 reduction in the amount of money being paid for port lands, but there are two important things to look at here.
First and foremost, this wasn’t something that was sprung on council unexpectedly — a quick look through the archives here at The Northern View shows the issue of port tax cap changes came up last May and last year cost the City $164,000 in property taxes. So the City knew a change was likely again this year and did nothing to prepare for it.
Secondly, and I just can’t possibly stress this enough: bringing forward a balanced budget year-in and year-out is probably the biggest function of any elected council. Always has been and always will be. It is up to council to make the decisions they need to make in order to balance the books, the responsibility does not fall on any other entity, corporate or otherwise. Saying that an outside entity needs to be part of the solution is essentially admitting you’ve fundamentally failed at the job you have been given. This is even more true when the budget seems to lack balance year-in and year-out without calling on residents to reach deeper and deeper into already shallow pockets.
Last year the Prince Rupert Port Authority provided $500,000 to community groups through its community re-investment fund, so it’s not like the City can say this organization is not doing its part to support the community it operates in.
Thorkelson said the Port should be paying because closing the pool, civic centre or economic development office would not be to their benefit. But the reality is, if any of that happens, the only people council can blame are themselves.
Do us a favor, don’t try to pawn off responsibility for your lack of financial foresight to anyone else.