By Walter Neufeld. I’m writing today to invite you to attend an important City hall meeting about the City of Abbotsford’s proposed 17.5 million tax dollar funding for YMCA.
The YMCA funding proposal has not been ratified. Mayor and City Council have stated that they want to hear from you before making their final decision. I invite you to get involved. Your silence is viewed as their consent to proceed.
Many Abbotsford residents are deeply concerned about this new, unmerited, YMCA expenditure proposal. Abbotsford’s community understands the linkage between such expenditures and their disproportionately high property tax liabilities. Those high property taxes are the direct result of mispent monies on ill-conceived projects. Based on a review of 153 BC municipalities, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has listed Abbotsford as one of the worst municipal spenders (http://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca/?p=97972).
That mismanagement is further highlighted by comparing Abbotsford’s average home property taxes to other municipalities (2010) who enjoy lower taxes, but with similar (or better) services:
- Port Coquitlam
- Maple Ride
- Langley (District)
- Langley (City)
- Pitt Meadows
Out of 160 municipalities surveyed, Abbotsford’s average home property taxes were in the 21st spot for charging the highest rates.
Abbotsford taxpayers were misled into voting for Plan “A.” The outcome of that debacles ongoing cost liabilities have put the City of Abbotsford on its heel and taxpayers in the ditch (Please see Mike Archer editorial in Today Media Group, “Columns: Opposition – Communication – Competence”
Posted on 18 December 2012, please see web link: feed://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca/?feed=rss2&p=98046) .
I believe most of Abbotsford’s good residents have no issue with the YMCA’s good works nut that does not mean they support tax funding subsidies for it. Taxpayers are keenly aware of the above facts and are likewise cognizant that the YMCA (US) generated revenues of 5.99 billion dollars in 2011. That same year, if YMCA had been compared to for-profit corporations, it would have been positioned 381.5th in Fortune 500’s listing of annual revenue rankings.
The YMCA was ranked 9th largest non-profit US charity in 2011.
There are many sound & compelling reasons for denying the City’s proposed tax giveaway but virtually no compelling reasons that justify its approval.
The YMCA tax giveaway proposal makes Abbotsford’s reigned in fiscal discipline all the more urgent
In the City of Abbotsford’s published “Strategic Directions 2012” (Page 12) Harvard Professor Michael Porter is quoted saying “The essence of strategy is deciding what not to do.” The document goes on to editorialize by concluding, ‘Abbotsford’s Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan are not immune from this reality. Trade-offs and prioritization are part of a healthy organization and community’.
When taxpayers are left footing the bill for bad decisions, it then becomes critical that wiser fiscal decisions are made. Toward that end, YMCA’s tax funding proposal qualifies unequivocally for what “… not to do.”
The to ensure your voice is heard, please attend City of Abbotsford Council meeting on January 21st at 3pm at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.
Ahead of that date, you can email your perspective to firstname.lastname@example.org to let the Mayor and Council know how you feel about tax increases and subsidies and/or financial aid for this project. For updates on how you can take further action, please visit http://www.abbotsfordtoday.ca and click on the link at the top to the YMCA Delegation
A Delegation, led by local business man Fred Thiessen, will present its objections to Council on that day.
Those Delegation objections include:
1. The City of Abbotsford has committed $17,500,000.00 to start;however there is no budget, no plan and no limit on the overall costs.
2. The Community Charter clearly states that municipal governments may not give tax dollars to anyone for this purpose, charities included.
3. The City of Abbotsford will own no part of the facility nor receive any revenue from it.
4. The project’s proposed facilities, and programs are already well provided for in Abbotsford.
5. Tax Payers will pay for half of the start-up costs (land, building & off-sites), receive no property tax ever (at least for the next 40 yrs) and in addition will fund both Provincial and Federal Tax subsidies. This would allow the project to unfairly compete with local business now providing similar services. (Which is why this is not allowed in the Community Charter)
6. The YMCA is a wonderful organization that relies on donations to accomplish good things. They should raise their money from private business as do existing groups like the MCC, the Salvation Army, and Abbotsford Community Services.
7. Finally, the City of Abbotsford does not have this money. They are “borrowing” the money from capital reserves, which have been previously allocated for other uses. It will result in a Property Tax increase without a referendum. We need that money for roads, infrastructure, policing, firefighting and economic development to support tax-paying businesses that invested their own dollars to come to our city.
Please join us on January 21s at 3pm at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium to show your support!
*Walter Neufeld was born and raised in Abbotsford. He manages a development company operating in BC and in Alberta. Walter has been a critic of the provincial government’s dysfunctional Mines Act for about 12 years. Neufeld is the president of the Fraser Valley Regional District Citizens Association (FVRDCA). Most recently, he’s critiqued both Honourable Randy Hawes and the gravel industries Aggregate Pilot Project which he believes to be a harmful private production document which Hawes is currently trying to offload onto BC’s public domain.