The Surrey Budget proposes a 9.5% increase in property tax for police transition costs
The City of Surrey released its draft five-year budget on Saturday, proposing a 16.5 per cent increase in property tax for 2023 to help cover costs largely linked to the transition of its police forces.
In a press release, the city said the draft operating budget for 2023-2027 had been prepared without a decision on Surrey policing, but was relying on the presumption that it would keep the RCMP as the police force in charge.
The city says maintaining the Surrey RCMP will cost about $235 million less over the next five years than transitioning to the Surrey Police Force, but “there remains a deficit of $116.6 million made up by the transition process has arisen”.
To accommodate this, the budget is proposing a 9.5 percent increase in general property taxes, meaning the average single-family household can expect to pay $219 more in property taxes next year.
Locke told CBC News that the 9.5 percent increase would be maintained for each of the next three years to offset the cost of police transitions.
“It’s certainly not a budget I’m happy to provide, but it’s a budget we must deliver,” Locke said.
Surrey Police Service says it believes in its advanced policing model, which is being put to the province, but has declined to comment further.
“SPS has repeatedly disputed the financial figures offered by opponents of the police change,” a police service spokesman said.
Surrey ‘can’t afford’ to proceed with police change: mayor
The budget comes about three weeks after Public Safety Secretary Mike Farnworth said the director of police services wanted more information before deciding on the city’s plan to return to the RCMP as a police force.
The new Surrey City Council voted in December to send a plan to Farnworth and called for the RCMP to be retained, while the Surrey Police Service urged it to oppose that plan, saying halting the transition would mean laying off 375 staff to dissolve and accept two police unions. non-recoverable costs of US$107 million.
Mayor Brenda Locke, who campaigned to keep the RCMP alive, said in the release that the “experiment” for police transition is now costing residents and businesses.
“The money wasted by the police transition, combined with the so-called 2.9 per cent four-year property tax rate introduced by the previous council, means we now have to catch up on core city services, like hiring firefighters by charter officers ‘ Locke said.
“Surrey can hardly afford to proceed with police rotation and we are starting to put our finances in order with this budget,” she said.
The budget also proposes a seven percent increase in property taxes to cover general inflationary pressures for citywide operations and the hiring of an additional 25 police officers, 20 firefighters and 10 civil servants for 2023. This means the average single-family home can expect to pay another $161 in 2023.
Locke also said they plan to reintroduce the 1% street and transit tax that the city implemented through 2018 — meaning the average single-family home will pay about $23 for better transit infrastructure.
“Our roads are in a pretty challenging area right now,” she said.
“We have to fix that.”