It seems the oft-repeated lament of local taxpayers is being heard.
For the past few years, taxpayers have finally started to see some relief, with steadily smaller annual tax increases. This year, the proposed city budget would involve a hike of less than half a per cent.
Clearly, a refreshing wave of reality is washing over council.
The mid-2000s saw huge civic spending on the controversial Plan A projects, including the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. That facility continues to be a major draw on city funds, along with the AHL team the former council and mayor decided to bankroll.
Abbotsford has also undertaken other major capital projects, including a pair of overpass improvements, and airport upgrades.
The result of those decisions – while providing some important infrastructure – has been deepening city debt, depleted capital reserves, and tax rate growth hitting well into double digits over the past decade.
Meanwhile, much to the chagrin of taxpayers, city hall has seen the number of employees earning over $100,000 steadily climb in recent years, along with offensively high salary increases ladled out to some managers.
However, in recent months, major changes have taken place in city hall. This spring, a number of top managers left – either voluntarily or otherwise. An expensive facility proposal by the YMCA was shelved.
Responsible financial stewardship is the common mantra of the mayor and new city manager.
It’s time to rebuild the city’s fiscal position, with only key projects proceeding.
In that context, in a growing community with myriad needs, is a $8-million local contribution to an overpass on Vye Road a top priority?