The 2014 budget for the City of Prince Rupert includes the collection of $15,473,092 in taxes from homeowners and businesses in the community.
It’s an increase of $1.4 million from the year before and that has some questioning how the city is spending the money it collects in taxes and other fees and services. With the $7 million airport loan and loan payment cancelling each other out, tax revenue accounts for 50.8 per cent of the city’s total operating budget of $30.44 million
Preliminary budget numbers released by chief financial officer Corinne Bomben shed some light on what the money you pay to the city in 2014 will be used for throughout the year.
By far the biggest expenditure for the city is paying the price of policing. The city anticipates paying $4.9 million to pay for policing costs, equivalent to 16.1 per cent of the city’s total expenses. Another significant expense also goes to pay for the fire department. The city anticipates paying $2.48 million for fire protection services, an increase of $301,710 from the previous year due to contractually-obligated wage and benefit increases, and that equates to 8.1 per cent of the city’s budget. The money is used to pay for 30 full-time-equivalent RCMP officers, 18 firefighters and the fire chief and deputy chief.
While some have called for a volunteer fire department similar to Terrace, Bomben notes that a change to a volunteer model would increase home and commercial insurance premiums, as well as those for city-owned properties.
Operationally, the largest piece of the city budget is allocated to provisions for capital projects. The number for that expense increased by $2.89 million compared to last year to sit at $3.47 million dollars accounting for 11.4 per cent of the budget. Public works common costs, which doesn’t include the $1.8 million set aside for roads, come in at $3.24 million equal to 10.6 per cent of the budget. The airport ferry, which connects the city to Digby Island, is anticipated to cost the city $2.13 million this year, up $216,868 from last year, which is seven per cent of the budget.
Recreation services, when expenses related to the pool, the arena, the civic centre and community services are combined, will cost the city $3.25 million. That figure is up $248,192 from last year’s budget and accounts for 10.7 per cent of the budget.
When combined, these six services account for 63.9 per cent of the city’s total budget
Next week the Northern View will look at comparative mill rates.