By Mike Archer. We’ve published a five part series on Development Cost Charges (DCCs) in Abbotsford. We’re republishing the summary article in an attempt to provide a Cole’s Notes version of one of the most important financial issues facing the City of Abbotsford.
You can find the series in our Municipal Politics Section or simply Click Here.
After years in journalism, politics and the media it was clear to us when we embarked on the project that the topic was likely to be considered a real snoozer by most residents. The more we asked the more we discovered most people haven’t a clue what they are or, more importantly, how they affect the average citizen or taxpayer of Abbotsford.
Simply put … DCCs are not a sexy subject.
With the layout we’ve chosen to adorn the topic we figure there is no longer any excuse not to educate yourself about what your senior city staff and politicians have done with your money.
If you have trouble reading the summary because of the pictures simply click Here for the naked truth – no photos, no spin.
The Main Facts You Need To Know About DCCS:
- In six years (2006 – 2012) The City of Abbotsford has gone from having $27,610,000 in its DCC fund to owing its DCC fund $13,133,000. That represents a difference of $40,743,000 since the adoption of Plan A.
- In most communities the Assist Factor, whereby local taxpayers pay a share of the cost of development, is set at between 1 and 5 percent. In Abbotsford the Assist Factor for water is 20 percent, for sewer 15 percent.*
- While residential water rates in Abbotsford rose 80 percent between 2008 and 2012 DCC rates to developers didn’t change
As Councillor Henry Braun described the situation in October 2012 – “This means that [Abbotsford] residents are paying a 30% subsidy** for infrastructure costs that should be borne by the development community that caused the need for new water infrastructure.”
Now For The Sexy Part
If you look at all the tax increases, fee increases and payroll deductions you are facing from government in the new year, the one on which you can actually have the greatest impact is the mess your City government has made of the managing your money.
Senior City Staff and a majority of Council want to give $17.5 Million of your tax dollars to the YMCA in order to effectively subsidize that private organization’s competition with the private fitness centres of Abbotsford some of which are listed below.
You may find the issue of DCCs much more sexy if you want to:
- Keep your local fitness centre options open
- Support local businesses
- Have council pay off some of the enormous debt you probably didn’t even know you had
- Reduce your water rates with some of the $17.5 Million they appear ready to give to the YMCA
- Reduce your contributions to helping developers get rich
- Reduce your contributions to out-of-town private businesses
Support Abbotsford Fitness Centres
Don’t know if we succeeded in making the topic of DCCs sexy but I hope we at least got you interested. To read the series on what has happened to your DCC fund look in our Municipal Politics Section simply Click Here.
*Before publication we changed an earlier reference to Abbotsford’s Assist factor being 30% as a result of a comment from Councillor Dave Loewen in Part Five of this series. Thanks to his comment we were able to determine that, though the City of Abbotsford tried to implement a 30% Assist Factor the province forced Council to drop it to 20%. Most cities have Assist Factors of between 1% and 5% putting the cost of development onto developers. Abbotsford prefers to put a much larger percentage of the cost of development on current residents than on developers.
** In the same string of comments you will find Councillor Braun’s explanation that, at the time he made the 30% claim City staff gave him that number as they were under the impression Abbotsford had a 30% Assist Factor … because City Council had asked for a 30% Assist Factor. But, as it turns out, the province of BC had protected Abbotsford taxpayers from their City Council and rolled it back!