The City of Surrey’s draft operating and capital budget for 2023- 2027 is now available for the public to view.
Surrey mayor Brenda Locke said at a press conference late Saturday afternoon (Feb. 18) that the biggest tax increase, of 9.5 per cent, is to cover the cost associated with the police transition.
“The 9.5 per cent tax hike is all due to the transition,” said Locke.
She added the 9.5 per cent increase will be in place for the next three years.
A news release from the city issued on Saturday stated, “While maintaining the RCMP will cost an estimated $235M less to operate over five years than the Surrey Police Service (SPS), there remains a shortfall of $116.6M created by the transition process.”
Locke acknowledged that the tax hike is significant.
“There’s no doubt about that, but it’s one that we have to do. We have to make sure that moving forward our budget is taken care of,” said Locke.
Locke said the City of Surrey normally gives residents two weeks’ notice about their budget.
“This is a complicated budget, it is certainly a topical budget. And so we wanted to make sure that our residents or taxpayer had as much information as much time to digest the information as possible,” said Locke.
Council decided to base this budget on if the RCMP remains the police of jurisdiction in Surrey.
“If we were to go with the Surrey police service, that number would be significantly more,” said Locke.
Locke said she did not want to see children and family programs impacted by the proposed budget.
“We wanted to see all the amenities that were planned and promises made to children and youth in our city move moving forward.”
Media release: The City of Surrey’s 2023-2027 General Operating and Capital Budgets are now available for the public to view. More than half of the property tax increases for 2023 is to fund the costs associated with the police transition.— City of Surrey (@CityofSurrey) February 18, 2023
City hall has yet to hear from provincial Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on his decision whether Surrey will maintain the RCMP as its police department of jurisdiction or continue with the transition to the Surrey Police Service.
The property tax increases proposed in the 2023 General Operating Budget are as follows:
•9.5 per cent General Property Tax increase to fund Policing Shortfall (approximately $219 for the average single-family home).
•7.0 per cent General Property Tax increase (approximately $161 for the average single-family home) to fund:
•General inflationary pressures
•Hiring of additional 25 police officers, 20 firefighters and 10 bylaw officers for 2023
•City Wide Operations (non-public safety)
•1.0% Roads and Traffic Levy. (approximately $23 for the average single-family home).
The full draft budget can be found on surrey.ca
The finance committee will hold a public meeting on March 6 at 2 p.m. to consider the 2023 budget. The meeting is open to the public as well as sending in written comments.
-With files from Tom Zytaruk