My observations and impressions of City Hall during my first six months in office can be summed up in one sentence; some things are better than expected while others are worse. However, you will have to visit this website in the weeks and months ahead to learn what those are!
My apologies to those who have been checking my website for new material…the original plan was to resume blogging within a few months of taking office and post a blog every two weeks thereafter. However, the learning curve has been much steeper than I had anticipated, especially with respect to the 2012 Budget.
You will have noticed that my website has been changed to “Councillor Perspective”. The views expressed on this website are my own and may not necessarily be the majority view of Council. At times, democracy can be a bit messy, however, our constitutional form of government has proven over and over again that it works and is preferable to what we see in many other countries around the world; dictatorships, violence, guns and far too often, bloodshed. I don’t claim to have all the answers, so please feel free to express your thoughts and opinions.
Since being elected, I have had the privilege of interacting with people that I would not have otherwise met and the comments received have been most helpful. Two common themes have emerged from those interactions; the people of Abbotsford care deeply about our community and they are concerned about spending and the impact of that spending on property taxes. For those who followed my blog during the campaign, fiscal responsibility was a key component of my platform. Therefore, it will not come as a surprise that my first post election blog will touch on that subject.
In 2012, Budget Expenditures will exceed Budget Revenue by approximately $30 Million. People have asked me how that is possible given that the Community Charter requires a balanced budget – good question. The Community Charter permits internal borrowing from other Fund Accounts (usually DCC & Reserve Accounts). During 2010, the City internally borrowed $20 Million. In 2011, an additional $9 Million was borrowed for a combined total of $29 Million as at December 31, 2011. Although the Community Charter permits internal borrowing, it also requires that these ‘borrowed monies’ be repaid within 5 years so that they can be used for the intended purposes for which they were collected. This means that the $20 Million borrowed in 2010 needs to be repaid by the end of 2015 with an additional $9M in 2016. I have expressed my concern that the City could find itself in the position of not being able to repay those internal borrowings, which could result in the City having to seek electoral approval to borrow monies on the open market.
From this Councillor’s perspective, the City’s spending needs to be reigned in, which is in large part why I voted against the 2012 Budget. Whether as individuals, corporations, or governments, we all must learn to live within our means. When we don’t, there are consequences and we need look no further than the daily news, where we see countries that are on the verge of financial ruin because they ignored some basic financial principles – spending more than you receive can have negative downstream consequences. The City does not have a revenue problem; it has an expenditure problem and this is where we must begin in order to get our financial house in order.