Our mayor and council are definitely out of touch with the financial realities of our taxpayers. Abbotsford requires intelligent financial leadership. We are not getting that. A clear example is the spending of over $60,000 on a piece of art. Keep in mind for the next election that councillors Gill and Simon voted against the policy that allowed this particular waste of money. Every other member of our council voted for this expenditure of funds. The piece of art I am talking about was done by a local native artist. As I am Metis by birth, my opposition to the artwork is not based on race but solely on the fact that the mayor and council are wasting our money.This is the same mayor and council who recently commissioned a study at a cost of $9,000 to find out where their salaries are in relation to other elected community leaders throughout B.C. Rather than throw away $9,000, the mayor could have directed one of his staff to call a dozen or so other municipal offices and ask what their salaries are. One staffer could have done that in a day. To add insult to injury, the mayor and council then decided that they deserve a raise. That sends a clear message to our police force, firefighters and other municipal employees. Unfortunately, that message could be that they can all expect raises. Not a good message to send when the current plan includes at least a 17 per cent raise in residential and business taxes over the next four years. Our police officers and firefighters currently make around $35 per hour. Our community can no longer afford wages at that level, it’s as simple as that. The provincial government informed its employees earlier this year that they would receive no raises for four years. Approximately two years ago, Canada and the rest of the world entered a recession that saw millions of jobs lost. Recently, our federal government informed us that most or all of the lost jobs in Canada had been replaced. I believe the majority of jobs that were lost were full-time positions with benefits, and the majority of the replacement jobs are part-time with little or no benefits. I mention this in the hope that our mayor and council will begin to get the message that municipal taxpayers are struggling more and more to get by financially. You cannot keep coming to us for more money while you spend it on non-essential items and on raises for yourself. It is time for the mayor and council to start thinking and acting differently. We can’t afford the status quo.