Why does the City develop a 5 year Financial Plan every year?

    Financial planning is an important part of municipal governance. 

    The City must  prepare a 5-year Financial Plan each year based on the following legislation in the British Columbia Community Charter for local governments.

    ·Section 165 of the Community Charter states that, “The total of the proposed expenditures and transfers to other funds for a year must not exceed the total of the proposed funding sources and transfers from other funds for the year,” meaning that municipal budgets are required to be balanced.

    ·Section 165 of the Community Charter also states that, “A municipality must have a Financial Plan that is adopted annually, by bylaw, before the annual property tax bylaw is adopted.” The Financial Plan bylaw can be adopted at any time in the fiscal year.

    ·Section 166 of the Community Charter requires that, “A Council must undertake a process of public consultation regarding the proposed Financial Plan before it is adopted.”

    ·Section 197 of the Community Charter states that, after the adoption of the Financial Plan, Council must adopt the Tax Rates by Bylaw before May 15th of each year.

    What does my tax bill include?

    The City also collects taxes on behalf of other taxation authorities such as the School Tax, Regional Hospital District, North Coast Regional District, BC Assessment & Municipal Finance Authority. In 2018, for instance, approximately 64% of your tax bill was made up of taxes collected by the municipality, with the rest going to the aforementioned taxation authorities.

    When the City announces the municipal tax rate, this is only in relation to the portion of your tax notice dedicated towards municipal property taxes.  The City does not control amounts set by other taxation authorities. 

    How can I reduce the financial impact of property taxes?

    The Province offers homeowners two programs:

    • Home Owner Grant
    • Tax Deferral Program

    The Provincial Home  Owner Grant must be applied for each year. The Home Owner Grant MUST be claimed before the Property Tax payment deadline in early July, or a Provincial penalty will be applied.  For more  information regarding eligibility, please visit the BC Homeowner Grant website, here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/home-owner-grant?keyword=home&keyword=owner&keyword=grant

    Or for general information on these two programs, contact City Hall at (250) 627 1781 

    You can also sign up for  pre-authorized payment withdrawal and spread the costs of City services out over each month. Benefits include:
    • No large payment twice per year
    • Take advantage of early pay discount on utilitiesEnsure full payment of property tax before July, meaning no 10% penalty charge
    • Help budget your own financesCan be cancelled at any time

    Contact City Hall to learn more! 
    Phone: (250) 627 0964. 
    Email: taxnotice@princerupert.ca
    Or visit our Customer Service Desk at:     
    424 3rd Avenue West 
    Prince Rupert, BC
    V8J 1L7

    Why does the City issue two bills each year?

    The City collects the majority of its revenue twice per year.  Utilities notices for annual payers are issued in February with an early payment discount cut off of March 31 each year (this year March 29).

    Property taxes are collected half way through the City’s operational year (calendar year) and are due, penalty free, the first business day after Canada Day (this year July 2nd). 

    How does the CIty make sure projects can start before the budget is passed in March?

    In November/December of each year, Council approves capital works and purchases ahead of the budget process for the following fiscal year. This ensures that City departments can prepare tenders and schedule works for the following year, enabling operations at the City to proceed efficiently and without delay.

    What are some of the biggest cost drivers in the budget?

    There are a number of influences on annual costs of operations in our municipality. The primary ones are similar to those that impact residents and businesses, and are associated with increases to costs of living:

    • Statutory benefit increases
    • Contractual wage increases
    • Service contract increases (i.e. RCMP, Transit, Airport bus)
    • Energy cost increases
    • General goods and services increases

    In addition to these regular cost drivers are one time events, or incidents that may impact the budget. These include, but are not limited to, unanticipated failure of local infrastructure, or an inclement weather event significantly impacting demands for staff.

    What are the trends in local property taxation?

    As residents are aware, property taxation is levied on the assessed value of property.  For all taxable property owners, the assessed value is calculated by the BC Assessment Authority, and in Prince Rupert, the trend in residential values has been a steady incline. Each year, the municipality adjusts the tax rate to reflect the change in values, so that we only collect what is needed to meet budgetary requirements.

    The trends in residential and commercial taxes differ from those in the major industrial sector. Our major industrial sector is split into two types of major industry - industry that qualifies for preferential treatment under a Provincial incentive program funded in part by City property owners (see "Port Property Tax Act" information below), and major industry that doesn't qualify. The properties that don't qualify are subject to taxation the same as all other property owners, and until 2019, did not make up a significant portion of Prince Rupert's assessed value (tax base), therefore there was limited contribution to the City's budget since the time that Skeena Cellulose closed. 

    What is the Port Property Tax Act and how does it impact me?

    The British Columbia government passed legislation in 2004 that affects trade companies’ municipal taxes in 9 communities along the BC coast.  Prince Rupert is one of the affected communities.  The legislation places a maximum flat property tax rate on qualifying export terminals.  All of the operating export terminals qualify for the flat rate.  Property taxes are calculated on assessed values.  The export terminals assessed values decrease every year, unlike residential properties which generally increase in value.This downward trend continues unless major investments are made into property improvements (such as the container port expansion in 2017). A flat rate multiplied by a lower assessed value each year means Prince Rupert collects less taxes each year from the operating export terminals.  This loss gets transferred to the residential, business and light industrial property tax payers. 

    Prince Rupert is in favour of import export terminals locating here.  They provide high paying employment to our citizens, who spend their wages in our community generating more/sustained employment.  Prince Rupert is not in favour of our property owners paying for the British Columbia incentive program.  To illustrate the extent to which this program impacts City finances, the Fairview Container port paid 16% less property tax in 2018 than it paid in 2008.  An average assessed homeowner paid 21% more property tax in 2018 than in 2008.  This property tax shift is unfair and City Council and staff have been hard at work making the Province aware of the inequity.  We continue to lobby for the Province to be the ones to pay for their incentive program rather than our taxpayers.