The current mayor says in today’s newspaper ad and mailer that I voted against jobs, debt reduction, a strong economy, safety, and transit. Again … really?
No. Not really. I did not vote against those things.
I voted for making responsible decisions with your tax dollars, responsible decisions that will impact your future.
I voted against recklessly rolling the financial dice and gambling with your hard-earned money.
So, here are the facts:
The West Abbotsford Industrial Park
The developer told us what services and infrastructure they’d pay for, and what they would not pay for: Highway 1 overpass at Lefeuvre Road; widening an east-west transportation corridor (Townshipline Road or some other road); and an essential new water reservoir located somewhere in Bradner, not to mention any water and sewer upgrades. If we had approved this project, Abbotsford would have been on the hook for all these things—things for which the developer was not paying. Development Cost Charges (DCCs) would have offset a small portion of these costs, but the major portion would be paid by taxpayers. In addition, the city’s engineering estimate was not available prior to voting and the engineering department could not give Council an order of magnitude: Would all this cost the city $10 million, $20 million or $50 million? I was not going to gamble with millions of your dollars.
Five-year Financial Plan
I am all for debt reduction, but I wasn’t for the 5-yr financial plan because it was meaningless … The numbers did not reflect reality, with $350 million of costs deferred out of sight and pushed into year six, increasing both debt and deficit and resulting in higher taxes.
Abbotsford Economic Development Corporation
The purpose of the Abbotsford Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), was to develop land for profit. (I know this because I was asked to be president of this corporation prior to announcing my inaugural run for city council in 2011.) It was intended that any profits made by AEDC’s development could then be used to offset losses the city had in other areas—if there were profits. But I believe city council has a responsibility to guard citizens’ tax dollars and use them wisely. Developers can spend money to develop land and properties—after all, they are the experts in that field.
2012 Budget Proposal
The mayor and council who sat prior to the election in 2011 increased the budget for police, which gave us more boots on the ground. In 2012, the crime rate was down because of the move of the previous council. So, because the police budget was rising faster than other sections within the city at the time, and the crime rate at the time was down, I voted to hold fast until we saw upward movement in the overall crime rate, which we did in 2014 (an 8% increase).
Highway 1 Bus Plan
There was no business plan attached to the report when this bus plan was proposed by the Fraser Valley Regional District. But the report did have Abbotsford paying 2/3 and Chilliwack paying 1/3 of the costs, even though four municipalities (Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Langley, Mission) were benefitting. The funny thing is, none of the elected members of the Mission Abbotsford Transit Commission knew anything about the proposal prior to it being presented.
There is a common thread here: Proposals are made without providing essential financial information. Council has often been expected to make decisions and approvals in a vacuum, without pertinent, vital financial details. When we make decisions like that, we end up playing catch-up. And playing catch-up is expensive … for a very long time.
Please vote tomorrow, Saturday, November 15, 2014.