I DO NOT, HAVE NOT, WOULD NOT ever suggest throwing money at a problem. I am a REALIST, believing in examining a problem to understand what the situation IS. I am not an Ideologue who, wearing the blinders of ideology, looks at a situation and sees what they want to see, not what really is. There is NO perfect solution. A system dealing with people demands flexibility and denies neat, easy answers. Rigidly applying Ideology guarantees failure. How I came to homelessness: click Backstory below.
Lavish $alaries Unearned, Undeserved
So one day the mayor, city council and city staff woke up and realized that there were roads in Abbotsford and, Gasp!, these roads need maintenance?Was council and staff’s apparent sudden awareness that Abbotsford has roads needing maintenance so unsettling and bewildering that they had to hire EBA Consulting to tell them that a) Abbotsford’s roads were in terrible condition and b) Abbotsford needed to spend more money on maintenance?
They should be seeking other jobs.
We now know the truth behind the proposed 2 cents a litre gas tax – it is all about allowing the mayor, city council and senior city staff to continue feasting at the city’s salary trough even though the state of Abbotsford’s roads demonstrates both incompetence and irresponsible behaviour.
“There would be outrage and all of us (at city hall) would soon be seeking other daytime jobs,’ predicted the mayor. “Nine percent isn’t going to fly.”
The gas tax is so the mayor, city council and city staff will be able to go with a deceptively lower property tax increase in next budget and thus keep stuffing their pockets with taxpayer dollars.
Why is the City of Abbotsford and its taxpayers facing this road fiasco?
“It’s so easy for councils to get into postponing roads as a way to balance budgets” he (Mayor Peary) said.
In other words the mayor and city council were focused not on what was needed for Abbotsford to thrive as a city, but on what would get them re-elected and allow them to continue to collect their salaries. Salaries that they clearly did not earn or deserve in light of their failure to take care of city business on behalf of the citizens of Abbotsford.
Given the behaviour of city council and city staff one cannot help but wonder if the reason for all this talk of roads and maintenance is because of council seeking some rational for their proposed gas tax?
Remember that there are numerous other financial issues and needs that the City of Abbotsford needs millions of dollars of increased revenue to cover or fund.
Regretfully it is clear that those responsible for the sad state of affairs and finances in our city, lack the honour and integrity to resign. Of course if they had honour and integrity Abbotsford would not be facing the critical situations it is.
For Your Information – Mayor Peary, city council and city staff: whether it is a gas tax or property tax it is coming out of taxpayer’s pockets.
It is clear that Abbotsford City Hall has failed, year after year, budget after budget, to act responsibly or with due care for the City of Abbotsford and its taxpayers. When the consequences of their irresponsible actions become unavoidable what is the response?
A proposed gas tax as they seek to avoid responsibility for their previous bad management by hiding the true magnitude of the tax raise needed, in order that they can continue to hold onto their jobs and collect their extravagant salaries. Salaries that the state of Abbotsford’s roads, other lacking infrastructure and finances demonstrate were neither earned nor deserved.
With a mayor, city council and city staff whose actions, over many years, are based on holding onto their jobs and collecting their unmerited salaries taxpayers can place no trust on any of their statements as to the true state the City of Abbotsford is in.
I will be writing to our local MLA’s and the Premier to urge them to say NO to the gas tax and force, at least in this matter, Abbotsford City Hall to answer in some small manner for their actions.
I will also be asking our MLA’s and the Premier, in light of the demonstrated fact that Abbotsford City Hall has been making decisions based not on what the City of Abbotsford needs but on what will allow them to hold onto their jobs and get re-elected and the reality that therefore citizens can place no faith in any statements or claims made as to the actual state of affairs for the City of Abbotsford, to have the Auditor General do a full examination of the financial records and the state of the City of Abbotsford.
It has become clear that this is the only way that the people paying the bills will find out how matters truly stand for the City of Abbotsford.
I urge all other citizens to write, fax, e-mail and call our MLA’s and the Premier to demand that they act responsibly and in the best interests of the citizens of Abbotsford by saying NO to the gas tax and having the Auditor General conduct an examination of the City of Abbotsford and report the true sate of affairs to the citizens of Abbotsford.
It is time to lift the veil of secrecy, open the closed doors and let the citizens of Abbotsford know accurately and truthfully what shape our City is in.
It is not all about ME!
Greed, selfishness, it’s all about me ….not a very good basis to build a society on; so why have we done just that?Indeed, greed, selfishness, it’s all about me has become so ingrained, so much part of the fabric of our society that people no longer even recognize this behaviour for what it is.
Or we can consider others and the health of our society and begin to address issues, solve problems and perhaps manage to get ourselves out of the deep hole, karmic and financial, that we have dug ourselves into.
The Death of Healthcare?
Watching Adrian Dix (Health Critic), Carole James and the NDP performance on the issue of Healthcare is a clear illustration of why, despite the overwhelming baggage carried by Gordon Campbell and the Liberals, the NDP were rejected in the last election; managing to lose an election that was theirs to lose.In scrambling to remain leader of the NDP Carole James has abandoned issue based policy that focuses on the needs of the province, its citizens and solutions, to pursue a course that is based on: Can we score political points here? Will this bump up NDP popularity and push down Liberal popularity? Will this serve my desperate need to remain leader of the NDP?
Sad State of Affairs
It is a sad state of affairs when the citizens of Abbotsford find themselves depending on the provincial government to say “NO” in order to save citizens from Abbotsford city government’s out of control and fiscally irresponsible behaviour. Find themselves dependant on the provincial government to force Abbotsford’s municipal government to exercise self control and discipline, to prepare proper operating budgets and to plan rather than scrambling from cash grab to cash grab, from problem to problem never doing anything to solve the problem, but merely haphazardly plastering over problems.Lamentably that is the position the citizens of Abbotsford are in, dependent on the provincial government to reject city council’s latest attempt to pillage citizen’s already impoverished pocketbooks in order to satisfy city council’s every growing need for cash to pay for their spending addiction.
Just say NO!
I distinctly remember attending and speaking at a council session in the spring of 2009 concerning Abbotsford’s 2009/10 budget. I also distinctly remember Abbotsford’s city council proclaiming the 2009/10 budget to Abbotsford’s citizens and that they had struggled mightily on behalf of the citizens and held the tax rise to “an overall increase of 5.5% to address key areas; a 2009 budget that protects key City services and provides support to the areas that need it most; Budget reflects the role of City government and responds to economic outlook” (to quote from the city’s press release).
So why is Abbotsford city council scrambling madly to separate taxpayers from millions more of their dollars this year and for year’s into the foreseeable future?
A budget is a financial plan. A household budget itemizes the family’s sources of income and describes how this income will be spent (housing, insurance, transportation, food and so on). Similarly a municipal budget indicates the municipal government’s income sources and allocates funds to police, roads, parks and recreation, wages, fire and the like.
Budgeting is, thus, a management tool used for both planning and control.
Fundamentally, the budgeting process is a method to improve operations; it is a continuous effort to specify what should be done to get the job completed in the best possible way. The budgeting process is a tool for obtaining the most productive and cost effective use of the city’s resources. Budgets also represent planning and control devices that enable city management and council to anticipate change and adapt to it.
Operations in today’s economic environment are complex. The budget (and control) process provides a better basis for understanding the city’s operations and for planning ahead. This increased understanding leads to faster reactions to developing events, increasing the city’s ability to perform effectively.
Clearly budgeting is a most important financial tool – if done properly.
I recently was dealing with getting an automobile on the road. I drew up a budget for the costs involved. I then drew up a budget for how the funds to meet these costs would be raised. Only after I was satisfied with the budget being realistic did I begin operations to get the car on the road.
It developed that there were a few unanticipated complications that had to be dealt with and that required extra cash outlays. My original budget had been realistic and so had covered the anticipated (major) expenses. The additional expenses were dealt with within my overall normal monthly operating budget. It required a shift of cash from budgeted expenditures to cover the additional expenses; decisions made based upon priority of the expenditures involved.
That is the way a budget works. You (should) know your income with a fair degree of certainty. You allocate how that money is to be spent. If there is an income shortfall for a undertaking such as getting an automobile on the road you need to increase the funds available to cover those new expenses (in the case of the city determine the tax increase to be imposed). Additional expenses (which, in a proper budget environment, should be minor) are handled, if considered a priority, through the reallocation of expenditures within the overall operating budget.
I apologize to the reader if the preceding paragraphs seemed a little dry. However, it is necessary to set out an understanding of budgeting in order to examine the actions of the City of Abbotsford and Abbotsford’s city council vis-à-vis the City’s current (past and future) Budgets.
I think that armed with even the most basic understanding of what a budget is, what a budget is for and what the budgeting process should involve makes it clear that no matter what city hall and city council call it, the document they called and approved as the 2009 budget was and is not a budget in terms of what an authentic budget entails and the information a bona fide budget contains.
If the document that Abbotsford city hall and city council approved had been a real operating budget, city council would not have had to immediately scramble around for additional revenue to cover operating costs. In a real, substantive budget those operating costs would have been covered by property taxes and the other revenue sources of the City of Abbotsford.
What city staff and city council continue to try to pass off as a budget is a document whose main purpose would appear to be to hoodwink the citizens of Abbotsford into accepting the fiction of a tax increase of only 5.5%.
Explaining why it was that after announcing and passing their fudged budget, council embarked on a search for the additional revenues needed to cover what the city’s actual operating costs were going to be.
The need for revenue to cover costs that the 5.5% claimes tax increase was inadequate to cover, is also likely why the city transferred $300,000 into each of water and sewer as ‘administration costs’ this year. That way the taxes needed to cover that $600,000 would be hidden from citizens in large water and sewer levy increases.
What about the five year 2009 – 2013 budget City hall and council passed? The need for investing hundreds of millions of $$$$ in infrastructure would have been part of any legitimate budgeting process with the result that funding to cover these expenditures would be or should have been included in the budget. There should be no need to scramble for large sums of additional revenue to pay for the needed infrastructure.
Indeed any responsible, any real long term budgeting process would have included the need for investing hundreds of millions of $$$$ in water treatment, sewage treatment, roads etc in the budget process that included Plan A.
All of which leads to the conclusion that Abbotsford city council has failed to engage in an accurate and proper budget process on both a yearly and long term basis over many years.
Budgeting is a planning and control process for delivering services in a cost effective manner – if done properly.
If done improperly, where the financial numbers used in the budgeting process are fudged rather than an accurate reflection of current (and future) operational needs and costs, you end up in the financial mess, the financial bind Abbotsford city council has put Abbotsford and the city’s taxpayers in – on the hook for hundreds of millions of $$$$ for infrastructure that should have been part of the budgeting process over, at the minimum, the past six years but that currently are unfunded and lack any financing plan.
The facts, the financial reality that is coming home to roost at City Hall, make it clear that budgeting, planning and control are effectively nonexistent for the City of Abbotsford – and have been nonexistent and/or ineffective for years.
Budgeting is a vital tool in managing Abbotsford and imposing discipline on city spending and operations. Pouring millions of dollars into bailing out city council and city staff will not remedy the demonstrated lack of a true budget process; it will only enable city council to continue it’s undisciplined, irresponsible financial behaviour.
Which is why the citizens of Abbotsford need to begin now to contact (with repeated regularity), their MLAs (John van Dongen, Michael de Jong, Randy Hawes), the Premier (Gordon Campbell), the Finance Minister (Colin Hansen) and Minister of Community and Rural Development (Bill Bennett) to urge them to “Just say NO” to Abbotsford city council’s request for a gas tax.
Since the current and future financial quagmire/crisis the City of Abbotsford faces demonstrates that current (and past) budgets were not accurate, realistic or effective tools for managing the city’s finances citizens can have no assurance as to the current true state of their city’s finances.
Despite statements made by city council members about the fact that the city’s financial statements are audited – anyone with experience with the audit process, especially as an auditor, is well aware of the inaccuracies and incorrect information an audited set of financial statements can contain. Remember that ENRON also had audited financial statements.
Which is why, among numerous other reasons, we need to urge the provincial government to have the provincial Auditor General do a thorough audit and evaluation of the financial/accounting records, results and financial position of the City of Abbotsford.
We need an accurate understanding of the finances and financial state of Abbotsford in order to have a accurate starting point to begin to impose financial discipline and properly planning and budgeting to meet the operating needs of the City of Abbotsford.
Citizens can continue to ignore city council’s financial irresponsible actions, finding themselves groaning under an evermore onerous tax burden, in order to bail city council out of their financially irresponsible ways.
Or risk becoming the residents of the first major Canadian city to go bankrupt as Abbotsford’s city council financially mismanages the City into destitution and insolvency.
Alternatively we can “Just say NO” to Abbotsford city council and stop enabling their spending addiction, and lack of financial responsibility.