Editor: On July 25, 2013, The Times reported the approved Aldergrove recreation center would cost over $50 million. Just three short months earlier, council had approved a budget of $35 million. No explanation for this sharp increase of $15 million has been provided.
An increase of $15 million from the “budget envelope” provided only three months earlier leads to lots of questions. Statements were made that suggested “shovels would be in the ground by early 2015.” So why has little or nothing been said since the July, 2013 announcement?
In the 2013 annual financial statement released in June of this year, the Township reported that revenues were more than $35 million lower than expected. Since this expected “surplus” did not materialize, the Township will not have the funds to complete the recreation centre without a serious upswing in revenue or dramatic cuts in expenses.
How could the Township be so far off on their expectations? The reasons lie in the details of the financial report.
“Local area service contributions, contributions from development cost charges and other income” came in a total of $45 million lower than expected. Small gains in other items made up for $10 million, for a total net shortfall of $35 million.
So who provides “local area service contributions” and “contributions from development cost charges?” You guessed it — developers.
Because the Township depends so heavily on the monies raised through development cost charges, it is motivated to approve developments that may not be in the best interest of the various Langley Township communities, or of residents.
For the last few years at least, the shortfall has been growing. Despite approving almost all of the proposed developments that come forward, the Township still cannot acquire the funds necessary to provide the services and infrastructure needed in our communities. The Township’s path to financial freedom was to be unbridled development. It hasn’t worked.
What does this mean for the Township? Can the path to financial freedom be unbridled development, or do we need to revisit the whole approach? Clearly approving everything hasn’t worked. What can you do?
Citizens need to question the council’s financial planning assumptions. They need to ask incumbent councillors why they keep approving every development, and ask where the funding is for projects such as the Aldergrove Recreation Centre.
These projects will continue to be delayed, because there is no money to pay for them.