PROFILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KIMBERLEY KUFAAS PHOTOGRAPHY Tyson’s Thoughts is a weekly column posted every Thursday at northislandgazette.com and in print the following Wednesday. Have some thoughts about my thoughts? email editor@northislandgazette.com.

Tyson’s Thoughts: The Town of Port McNeill’s 2019 budget items are in

What do you think about Port McNeill’s budget this year?

Welcome back to Tyson’s Thoughts! Brace yourselves, as this week’s edition is going to be all about the Town of Port McNeill.

First off, before I dive into town politics and budget line items, I want to say a few words about former longtime Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney.

Even as a young child growing up 30 minutes away in Port Hardy, I was very aware of who Gerry was and his legacy as a politician on the North Island.

My dad always liked to tell me Gerry was the longtime mayor of “Furneyville”, which was his little nickname for the Town of Port McNeill, and that Port Hardy’s mayor was “some guy named Russ Hellberg”.

I didn’t spend much time in McNeill as a youth, mainly going over to play soccer and other sports against North Island Secondary School, so I never had the opportunity to actually meet Gerry until I started working at the North Island Gazette back in 2015.

He was always kind to me whenever we spoke — he jokingly called me a “Port Hardy kid” once with a smile on his face — and I mostly saw him when he was watching Elliot’s hockey games.

Anyways, that’s enough memories from me. I will quietly end this little tribute by saying thank you to Gerry and his family for everything they have done over the years for the North Island.

Gerry was a great man who’s dedication and sacrifice to our northern communities will echo down through time for many more years to come.

Now then, let’s talk politics and budget line items.

It seems to me after sitting through Port McNeill council’s budget meetings recently that the town could possibly be planning to loosen the purse strings a bit and start spending more taxpayer money.

Port McNeill has traditionally always kept taxes low for residents, the town’s total tax increase for 2018 was 2.7 per cent, which was the net change in the consumer price index plus an additional one per cent to cover the increased cost of paying an honorarium to the fire department personnel and emergency coordinator.

Whereas Port Hardy’s total tax increase for 2018 was 4.025 per cent, which included a 1.25 per cent increase for remuneration to Port Hardy Fire Rescue volunteers.

Interesting, right? My understanding is that because Port Hardy has a higher population they have a bit of a bigger tax base to pull from to help fund all kind of projects.

Or maybe Port Hardy just likes to spend taxpayer money.

Let’s take a look at Port McNeill’s budget items listed in their Jan. 21 agenda, which you can read at this link here.

Port McNeill Fire Rescue is requesting quite a few items this year, totalling $1,096,800, which to me is well worth the cost. I see first hand what the local fire departments go through as a part of their job, and they are worth every single penny that they are asking for, especially when you consider Port McNeill is a volunteer department who aren’t getting paid for what they do for the town.

The harbour is asking for around $473,000, which includes dock replacements, dock repairs, and approach repairs as the most expensive items listed. I don’t know too much about the Port McNeill harbour’s docks and their life expectancies, but I do know the town is looking at securing grant funding to help cover these costs.

Public works has listed three pages worth of items, totalling around $1,080,000. The outdoor swimming pool is the biggest expense listed, as it needs $170,000 worth of repairs to the mechanical room in order to keep the pool running.

However, the town is looking at bandaging the problem for a small fee of $26,000 just to keep it operational this summer instead of breaking open the piggy bank and fixing it outright.

Finally, CAO Pete Nelson-Smith submitted a strategic priorities budget totalling $167,500 for various things like a recreation complex grant ($50,000), community plan ($100,000), website upgrades ($15,000), and council meeting equipment ($2,500).

Not only is all of this stuff listed as budget items this year, the town is also going to make a decision on whether or not to pay the chamber of commerce roughly $10,000 a year for the next four years, and the town has also been approached by the Port McNeill Library about working together and building a brand new library in town, though financials for the project have not been discussed yet and it is most likely just a “pipe dream”.

What do you think about Port McNeill’s budget this year? I recommend researching where your tax dollars are going so that if you get hit with an increase this year you know exactly why and where it came from and who’s accountable for it.

Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy.

His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years.

He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: editor@northislandgazette.com

Just Posted

North Island Rising: Minority Rules – Women & Politics

Male politicians continue to out number female politicians in the North Island.

North Island Concert Society reports on a successful season

It was a successful season for the NICS in terms of increased attendance.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The Merry Widow Mountain trail

“Early morning light is best for photos of the face of the mountain”

Kwakwaka’wakw families march in Port Hardy in honour of MMIWG

Red dresses lined Market Street in honour of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

20th Anniversary of Family Fishing Weekend coming to North Island

Choice of 14 events held on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read