Surrey will be getting a dozen new RCMP officers next year, if staff recommendations in the city budget are adopted.
It’s four officers less than the city had planned for in it’s 2016-2020 five-year capital plan.
Surrey Coun. Tom Gill said Monday the reason the city has shaved that planned increase from 16 to 12 is that the city is hiring an additional four bylaw officers.
The city will be moving to having bylaw officers in a more proactive role, attending calls that could prevent the requirement for a police officer in future.
“Having the bylaw officers there prior to when someone calls 911 is a benefit,” Gill said. “And I think you’d likely see that kind of strategy roll out in the future.”
The city’s finance committee was scheduled to consider next year’s operating budget and the 2017-2021 financial plan on Monday afternoon.
Staff are recommending the hiring of 12 new RCMP officers, to start in October, 2017.
It will bring the force up to 831 officers, as Surrey continues to be the largest RCMP detachment in the country, a force larger than some entire divisions in Canada.
In addition, city staff are recommending the hiring of 16 RCMP officers annually from 2018 through 2021, as part of the five-year plan.
Next year’s policing hires come at a cost of just over $10 million, when contract increases, division and integrated services costs are considered.
Surrey staff is also recommending the addition of seven new bylaw officers (four more than planned) and one bylaw support clerk.
They will be hired in June, and come at a cost of $155,000 for next year.
To pay for the extra staff, taxes will be going up.
In total, Surrey residents are looking at hikes totaling $123 for the average home.
Surrey’s budget committee has already endorsed $23 in increases to utilities, including sewer, water and waste hauling.
The city is also endorsed an ongoing one-per-cent road levy, which would amount to $17.50 for the owner of the average home worth $720,400.
The committee has also endorsed a $10 increase to the $100 Capital Parcel Tax, introduced in 2014, just a month after the civic election.
Staff are also recommending an increase property taxes by 3.9 per cent, which amounts to $72 for the owner of the average Surrey home.
The budget committee consists of the whole of council. Its recommendations are usually passed as recommended at a regular council meeting.