Taxpayer Terror

Experience has made ” making profits” and ” saving taxpayers money” words and concepts that strike terror into the hearts of Abbotsford’s taxpayers when spoken by members of Abbotsford City Council.

Paying to cover the losses of Council’s ‘profitable’ get rich quick schemes or the costs of repairing, completing, redoing or living with the consequences of Council’s ‘saving taxpayers money’ has (and continues to) impoverish the taxpayers and citizens of Abbotsford, not just monetarily but also in terms of City services, infrastructure, amenities, the cost to use facilities etc.

One would have Hoped (Prayed) Council would have learned, after all their costly squandering of taxpayer dollars, to consider possible consequences of their actions instead of simply doing the math to arrive at the dollars that would be earned or saved IF and ONLY IF everything went absolutely perfectly.

What makes council’s recent announcement of their latest plan to reap big profits from electronic billboards notably worrisome is not the fact that once again council has, behind closed doors, created a fantasy world of imagined big profits that has little or nothing to do with the real world that rules existence outside the confines of City Hall. Nor is it that council still refuses to hear or consider any questions or objections raised by those who don’t share council’s fantasies.

No, what raises dread about council’s latest get rich quick ‘sit back and let the $millions$ roll in’ scheme is that, apparently unable to find any new financial disaster to pursue, council has RETURNED to the electronic billboards business.

Remember, council had to have a big, multicoloured, all the bells and whistles billboard for ARC because council could then simply ‘sit back and let the $dollars$ roll into city coffers’?

Since its installation no advertising dollars have materialized – none, zero, zip, nada. The ARC billboard has only been used, until recently at least, to deliver information about ARC’s programs and events that a smaller, simpler, far less expensive billboard would have sufficed to deliver at a substantial savings to taxpayers pocketbooks.

Yet in spite of the fact that none, zero, zip, nada of the advertising revenue promised by council ever materialized, council has returned to electronic billboards as a source of ‘profits’.

[Recently the billboard has been used to increase the dollar value/cost of council’s hidden subsidies for the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports complex by advertising upcoming events at the AESC.]

In light of Mayor Peary’s statements concerning the City’s agreement with the Pattison Sign Group one has to wonder if it is the ability to use the billboards to provide new, major advertising subsidization for the AESC and the Heat that led to the agreement?

The black hole that AESC is for taxpayer’s dollars – multi-million dollar subsidies to the Heat ownership group, multi-million dollar operating subsidies so the Heat have an arena to play in and the growing cost of council’s hidden (from taxpayer’s) subsidies – would seem about to consume millions more taxpayer dollars thanks to city council’s agreement with the Pattison Sign Group.

What makes me say that? Two things.

First is that councils big fancy digital billboard at ARC failed to attract advertising; that the only non-event  advertising on the Tradex electronic billboard is City advertising; that the display on the Automall’s very large, easily seen from Highway 1 electronic billboard is……..the time and temperature.

If there is no market for your product, in this case advertising on large electronic billboards, you are going to find yourself stuck holding said unsellable product.

Second, whatever else people have to say about Jimmy Pattison, they acknowledge that he is a sharp businessman.

The Pattison Sign Group is about to spend millions of dollars erecting 3 large electronic billboards in Abbotsford, were the lack of advertising dollars being spent on existing electronic billboards suggests there is a strong possibility that the Pattison Sign Group’s billboards will fail to generate sufficient revenue to break even on the billboards and their multi-million dollar cost.

Given council’s demonstrated willingness to provide revenue guaranties (a la the Heat) and the sharpness of Jimmy Pattison as a businessman – I want to know just how much Abbotsford’s taxpayers are potentially on the hook for when the billboards, which will operate in the real world and not council’s fantasy worlds, fail to generate enough revenue to cover their costs?

Unfortunately, what this agreement can cost Abbotsford’s taxpayers to pay for council’s latest get rich quick scheme’s ‘profits’ is undoubtedly something council considers taxpayers ‘don’t need to know’ and since it involves a private business they can (and will undoubtedly) refuse to disclose this information to taxpayers (as they do with the Heat).


I wonder how long it will be before council decides the problem with the AESC, as it would appear they did with ARC’s billboard, is that it is too small and that building a three or four times larger complex will have umpteen tens of $millions$ rolling in?

It is well past time that, if council wants to gamble on get rich quick schemes, they use their own money.

And if they cannot, as the BC lottery ads put it, learn their limits and play within them……

Because councillors are elected to take care of the City’s business and taxpayer’s best interests, not to be impoverishing taxpayers pursuing nonexistent business ‘profits’.

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