Council approves 2014 budget

City on track for a tax increase of less than half a per cent

Abbotsford council has approved the 2014 budget, and is on track to provide taxpayers with an overall municipal tax increase of less than half a per cent next year.

The general municipal tax will drop by 0.29 per cent, which the city says can be done by finding efficiencies with no cuts to services.

Increases for police – 0.58 per cent – and the regional library – 0.15 per cent – lead to a total tax increase of 0.44 per cent.

Even with the slight budget boost, Abbotsford Police Department will reduce its staff by four officers and one civilian through attrition.

The budget will undergo another review in February for any necessary amendments.

Abbotsford’s total 2013 budget is about $250 million, with an operating budget of roughly $170 million and a capital budget of $80 million.

Among the city’s high priorities is paying down debt, building back reserves for the city’s road development cost charges (DCCs), which are currently in the negative, and building an overpass at Vye Road.

The city also plans to replace two fire halls – Hall 4 Matsqui and Hall 5 Mt. Lehman – to address seismic and operational constraints. Planned improvements to Clayburn Creek will address flooding.

The parks and recreation department is planning to develop new sport fields and acquire lands around Mill Lake Park.

Another major project for the city will include updating both the Official Community Plan – the last was created in 2005 – and the city’s zoning bylaws.