Abby could become ‘spinster in the middle,’ mayor says

The City of Abbotsford is being wooed by the Fraser Valley Regional District to the east and by the Metro Vancouver Regional District to the west.But Abbotsford Mayor George Peary says the city “might become the spinster in the middle” and not join either, wiping out one whole level of government by the move and saving its residents millions in taxes.”It’s not personal,” the mayor says. “It’s business.”An FVRD report released this week promises Abbotsford taxpayers a $715,736 cut in the amount of taxes collected by the regional government, which means the average residential taxpayer ($347,157 in assessed value) would see the regional portion of their tax bill drop to $29.04 from $40.76 in 2010 – a 28.7 per cent reduction.The cuts are part of a region-wide restructuring, which would see Chilliwack’s tax requisition chopped by 20 per cent to $1.4 million from $1.8 million in 2010, and Mission’s drop by 20.4 per cent to $651,522 from $818,069 in 2010.FVRD chair Patricia Ross, who also sits on the Abbotsford city council, says the $2.42 that each taxpayer would ante up monthly for membership in the FVRD “is a pretty good deal, really … for all the many benefits we get from the FVRD” like emergency 911 dispatch, air quality, social and transit planning.But there’s also the “lobbying power” of the FVRD government to consider, she adds, which makes the city’s voice “far stronger” when it comes to protecting taxpayers’ interests.”That’s not something we can quantify and put a dollar value on, but it’s certainly important,” she says.Peary says the city will study the FVRD report, but saving taxpayers an addition $1-million by pulling out of the regional district government is hard to argue with.The city itself already provides its residents with six of the functions offered by the FVRD, he says, like regional growth planning and solid waste management, and could contract out others like mosquito control.”We have a lot more in common with people to the west, than people to the east – and that’s just the way it is,” he says.But the mayor doubts the city would join Metro Vancouver because of the onerous fuel tax imposed by that regional district.”We might become the spinster in the middle” he says, and not join either.