Abbotsford posts $29 million cash surplus in 2018

Reserves continue to grow, but finance chief warns more will be needed

The City of Abbotsford posted a cash surplus of $29 million in 2018 as its coffers continued to swell.

But the city’s top finance officer warned council Monday that all that money and more will be needed if the municipality wants to complete all the infrastructure projects it has planned for the coming years.

Raj Sharma presented the city’s annual financial report to council Monday. It showed higher revenue and expenses, in part because of record development across the city in 2018. The city’s surplus will go into its reserves, with its general fund swelling to $90 million.

Abbotsford’s total financial assets – a general gauge of a municipality’s fiscal health – have now reached $225 million. Those assets had been in the red at the start of the decade due to several major infrastructure projects.

“This is a dream story,” Sharma said. “We were in the negative and as years have gone by we are now in very, very favourable and this continues to grow.”

Most of that money is held in reserve funds from which the city can draw in order to complete major capital projects. Its general fund, which can be used for any kind of project, now stands at $90 million.

But Sharma told council that the bulk of that money – $56 million – is already allocated to a number of different projects. The city has around another $90 million more set aside in funds reserved for sewer and water projects.

Much more will be needed in the years to come, Sharma said.

The city’s new masterplans include nearly $2 billion of infrastructure projects slated for the next 25 years. Abbotsford will hope to get federal and provincial funding to help reduce its share of that sum. In particular, it’s asking those senior governments to pay the full cost for more than $400 million of necessary dike improvements. But the city knows it will have to spend much of its own money on other projects.

RELATED: New Abbotsford plans lay out $1 billion in spending

FROM 2018: Surplus grows for Abbotsford

“The reserve is healthy and favourable,” Sharma said, “but considering that our city is growing, our infrastructure is growing, that reserve number needs to be looked at and made sure we continue to put money aside to meet the growing demands of the city.”

Sharma said accounting standards suggest 15 per cent of a city’s budget should end up in reserves.

“We are just about meeting that target,” he said.

The reserves also ensure that the city will have money on hand when the federal and provincial government are ready to ante up for local projects – most of which require some capital investment by the municipality involved.

Coun. Ross Siemens pointed to highway widening work that will require overpass upgrades, a cost often borne by cities.

Staff, meanwhile, are working on a long-term financial plan that will set policies regarding how much money ends up in those reserves.

The report also showed that the city added $3.8 million to its rainy-day operating reserve, which now stands at $51.3 million. The city also bolsted its non-cash assets by $60 million, thanks in large part to parkland turned over by Metro Vancouver.

Its debt, meanwhile, is slated to be paid off by 2032.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rail group to bring plan to Abbotsford council

Group is calling for plans to run trains on rail line between Chilliwack and Surrey

UPDATE: New Abbotsford ER expansion expected to welcome patients in October 2020

Deadline for construction proposals closes, but construction timeline unknown

Mt. Baker climbers reach summit in memory of Const. John Davidson

Team includes Abbotsford Police members, Davidson’s 3 kids and others

Abbotsford ‘Champ’ bikes with confidence thanks to War Amps

Camden Loewen, 11, receives adaptive device to hold onto handlebar

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Hazmat incident closes down Lower Mainland street

One person is believed to be dead, police said

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Pride flags stolen from Lower Mainland church

Went missing sometime Friday night, says Maple Ridge reverend

25 new wheelchair-accessible cabins open at Cultus Lake Provincial Park

Maple Bay Campground is now home to 25 new wheelchair friendly cabins, a first for BC Parks

Most Read