BILL MACGREGOR:

I am compelled to reveal some information to you. It is a struggle to know what to do sometimes but the strengthening agent within me is integrity of purpose. If I know such information and DO NOT share it then I am an accomplice to the deceit. I have checked and rechecked with Financial Experts as to the validity of the following interpretation and it is as examined.
So, here are the facts:

I specifically refer to statements being repeatedly made by The Abbotsford First Slate through their website and other media with respect to the City’s finances .

My analysis, which is based on publically available, audited financial statements, reveals the following contradictions:

From the AbbotsfordFIRST society website http://www.abbotsfordfirst.com/

“In 2006 our City was debt free and had a projected $4 Million surplus …”Abb.FIRST

NOT TRUE. Audited financial statements show that Abbotsford had $38.4 million in long term debt at the end of 2006.

“Today our debt is more than $100 million dollars . . . . . . .” Abb.FIRST
NOT TRUE. Audited financial statements show that Abbotsford had $78.4 million in total long term debt at the end of 2013, our most recently audited financial statement. This long term debt, which has a very favourable fixed interest rate until maturity, is almost entirely related to the three Plan A projects, which were approved by the taxpayers in a referendum.

Over the past eight years, the City has invested considerable funds in important infrastructure projects totaling well in excess of $165 million, including expansion of the ARC ($20 million), The Reach Gallery/Museum ($10M), the Abbotsford Centre ($85M), Airport Improvements ($15M) the Whatcom Connector ($11M), a new Firehall ($4M), improving and raising dykes ($11M…$5M of which was provided by the Province), net $6M. Upgraded All Weather playing fields, the New Library and land acquired for eventual expansion of Mill Lake Park is NOT included. Also NOT included is significant money spent on upgrading water mains, the James Treatment plant, drilling the Bevan Wells (which proved to be very important when the Norrish Creek water line was disabled for several weeks in 2013). All of these capital improvements were made at a cost to the City of over $200M and long term debt increased by a net of only $40M – I would say that is pretty good money management! Furthermore, long term debt (residual from that which existed in 2006) has actually been repaid on an accelerated basis over the past year due to our strong cash position.”

“ … the financial outlook isn’t favurable and there are no plans to get us back on track.”Abb.FIRST

NOT TRUE. The City generated a $10 Million dollar surplus/reserve contribution in 2013. The 2014 surplus is projected at between $7.5M and $10M. This strong position has enabled the City to hold the Tax increase for 2014 to a zero increase, the first time in at least 15 years!

So, if our long term debt position was $78.4M (Dec 31, 2013) what was the City’s cash position?

As at Dec 31, 2013 the City had nearly $130 million in cash or cash equivalents! The financial situation is under very good control and with infrastructure in good shape, the City is very well poised to continue reducing operating expenses, pre-paying debt and holding taxes to zero increases, or at least no greater than inflation. If re-elected, that is my commitment.

My rhetorical thoughts are, if the candidates running under the Abbotsford First banner are prepared to inflate the change in the debt picture from the accurate figure of $40M by 250% to a fictional difference of $100M what would they do if they had responsibility for our budgets? They present themselves as fiscally wise candidates and yet they apparently do not know how to read audited financial statements?

As a retired High School Principal, you might excuse me for using the phrase by urging voters to “do your homework” before casting your vote. This grossly misleading hyperbole being put out by the Abbotsford First organization is, in my opinion, quite insulting to really good staff folks and the current Mayor and Council who have fought hard to get to make some tough decisions and achieve the fiscal strength we currently enjoy. It wasn’t magic … it was good leadership and good decision-making. It was also the right thing to do … it was principle centered.

I leave you with this famous Lenin quote: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Mr. Lenin was tragically a master at manipulating the truth.

Dr. Bill MacGregor

Councillor

City of Abbotsford

 

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