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City receives second $2.1 million payment from Prince Rupert Port Authority

The City of Prince Rupert has received another $2.1 million cheque from the Prince Rupert Port Authority as the two organizations continue to debate how much payment-in-lieu of taxes (PILT) the city should receive.

The issue surrounding PILT is related to the value of undeveloped port lands – while the city believes payments should be made based on BC Assessment values, the port authority has an third-party assessment done on the federal lands and pays mill rate based on that valuation.

"There has been a disagreement about the payment-in-lieu, so the port made two payments in the interim to provide some relief, recognizing the financial situation of the city," explained port authority manager of corporate communications Michael Gurney.

"We've provided these interim payments and look forward to the resolution of the outstanding PILT payments."

Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem said the cheque itself has been in the hands of the city for some time, but was not deposited until this week.

"It came in approximately three weeks ago and was held until senior staff had final discussions with the port authority about the PILT topic ... that money will go into city coffers and the additional funds will be subject to a report from staff and discussion among council about where it should be put," he said, noting needed infrastructure improvements may be a priority.

"There is some appreciation of the fact that this was overdue and the port handled it in an expeditious manner. We had a representative on the port authority board bringing this forward, Maureen Macarenko, and we appreciate her work on behalf of the city."

As for ongoing discussions about PILT payments, Mayor Mussallem said they may be coming to a conclusion.

"At this time, we have taken the matter about as far as we can go," he said.

"The values will fluctuate in the years ahead, but in the future there may be opportunity to get more value ... if we get an announcement within the year about two LNG terminals moving ahed, you can imagine what that would mean for the city."

The first cheque was received by city in November, a payment the city referred to as "the port's partial payment towards their outstanding property taxes based on revised industrial property values".

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