Sunday, January 21, 2007

Operators are standing by.

It would appear that the phone lines have been smoking at City Hall since the provincial housing assessments came out in the city.

In his regular column in the Northern View, Mayor Herb Pond recounts some of the many and apparently frequent glad tidings of Podunkians regarding their suddenly valuable real estate. With visions of huzzahs and statues dancing in his head, reality apparently has provided an alternative vision.

It's an interesting bit of creative writing this dear diary entry is, perhaps he could submit his article to Reader's Digest, it does have that "Life's like that" ring to it.

Assessment reactions show that life can be so interesting
Jan 17 2007
The Northern View

When I began my first term as Mayor (the best job in the world by the way) people were having a hard time even giving houses away in Prince Rupert. I don’t need to go on about it. Those of us who lived through it don’t really want to be reminded, and those that didn’t won’t fully understand. But for the sake of those who are new, let’s just say that the stack of weekly foreclosure notices at the courthouse began to rival the Great Wall of China, and it was tearing families apart.

So now it’s four short years later and I’m reading with some sense of accomplishment that real estate value increases are double digit – for the second year in a row!

“Terrific,” I think to myself,

“I’ll just park myself by the phone and wait for all the many calls of thank-you and congratulation.”

You know the kind I mean - “Thank you Mr. Mayor,” or “Tell that Council of yours that you’re all doing a great job,” or my personal favourite, “Let’s erect a small statue of you beside Charles Hays.”

Just before picking up the first ringing phone, I practice my response.

“Of course,” I’ll reply humbly, “it is a team effort. We couldn’t have done it without the Port, NCDC… I’d like to thank my mother.”

“Is that the Mayor?”

“Yes, I’m proud to say that it is.”

“What kind of #@%* idiot are you? Now my taxes are going to triple? If I wasn’t so @#%& mad, I’d come down there and…”

The phone rings again, and the message is roughly the same. Then again. And yet again.
Subsequently, I discover that my call volume is nothing compared to the front desk at City Hall. For several days now we have been assuring people that we always lower the mill rate as property values rise, but if your assessment climbed a great deal more than the average, you may wish to appeal.

And that is just the way it works. It costs the same amount to keep ice in the arena and water in the swimming pool, no matter what your house is worth. Costs may go up a little each year with inflation, but not much. So, whether the market is rising or falling, we’ll each need to kick in roughly what we did last year to keep things going – regardless of what value BC Assessment assigns to our houses.

Later in the day, Sandy and I are at home decompressing and she asks about my day.

I smile and say, “Let’s just say that life can be so interesting.”

Prince Rupert Mayor
Herb Pond

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