Surrey proposes 7% property tax increase, but no money for police transition

The City of Surrey has released its 2024 budget, but it is missing a key figure in the city’s future — the transition to the municipal police force.

Released Tuesday, Surrey is proposing a seven per cent increase in taxes for Surrey property owners. The proposal includes a six per cent hike in general property tax and a one per cent increase in its roads and traffic levy.

The city believes that for an average single-family home, it will add $177 per year.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ Listen to CityNews 1130 LIVE now!

“If the proposed increases are approved, the City’s portion of property taxes for the average assessed single-family home in the City of Surrey would be $3,084, which would place Surrey in the lower-middle for property taxes collected for the respective average assessed home in Metro Vancouver,” the city explained.

However, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke explained the city’s transition to a municipal police force has not been accounted for in the budget.

“We have been prudent and kept costs as low as we possibly could. New revenues have helped but we have also chosen not to pursue other spending priorities. The fact is, [the] Surrey Police Service is eating into our ability to deliver new projects. However, our focus has always been Surrey residents and we will provide our citizens with the improvement and amenities they deserve,” she explained.

“This Budget includes a set amount for policing that is predicated on an authorized strength of a minimum of 785 officers to ensure funding is in place for adequate and effective policing for Surrey. This is the largest policing operations budget in the history of the City.

“This Council has resolved to stay with the Surrey RCMP. If we are mandated to continue with the police transition, we are facing an increased cost of half a billion dollars or more over the next decade, compared to the costs of the Surrey RCMP. The 2024 Budget also does not include a variety of anticipated but unknown costs if we were to continue with the Surrey Police Service.”

Locke added that as the Surrey Police Service has been mandated to have two-person vehicles, the SPS would require “well over 1,000 officers,” up from 785 accounted for in the 2024 budget.

“This would translate to a significant cost increase to taxpayers with no net benefit to public safety. As well, the budget does not include indemnification costs we would face switching to the SPS, as the federal government currently bears these costs with RCMP. These implications would need to be addressed in future budget cycles, along with any unforeseen costs, considering the Surrey Police Service exceeded its budget by more than $22 million in 2023.”

Locke said she will not “artificially inflate taxes” when Surrey families are struggling to pay for rent, mortgages, food, and other “essential expenses.”

“My priority is meeting the needs of our residents while being as fiscally prudent as possible. It is essential we create a thriving, liveable city for both present and future generations.”

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday morning, Locke says the city has been “prudent” and has kept costs as low as it could.

Locke explained some city projects — namely the Welcome Centre and the Cloverdale Fairgrounds — are things the city is treading “softly on because we have to keep taxes low.”

“This is not a time for any city, but certainly not for Surrey, to raise our taxes — our residents simply cannot afford it.”

Safe Surrey Coalition calls tax hike ‘unjustifiable’

Two Surrey councillors are calling out Locke’s decision to raise property owners’ taxes by seven per cent, saying it will “burden hard-working” residents.

Couns. Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra, both part of the Safe Surrey Coalition, say the increase is “unjustifiable” in a time of inflation and the affordability crisis.

“Mayor Locke’s latest tax increase comes on the heels of her wasteful expenditure of half a million dollars in taxpayer funds on a vanity project aimed at fear-mongering residents with baseless claims of impending double-digit property tax hikes. It is now evident that Mayor Locke’s fear-mongering tactics were merely a ploy to distract from her own irresponsible fiscal management,” the councillors said in a joint statement.

“Mayor Locke’s personal vendetta and petty politics in her crusade to keep the RCMP in Surrey have come at an exorbitant cost to taxpayers. Her stubborn refusal to accept $150 million in funding from the province, along with additional new funding as reported recently by the media, is a testament to her vindictive ‘my way or the highway’ approach to governance,” they added.

Surrey’s financial committee is set to meet April 22 to consider the budget.

You can watch CityNews 24/7 live or listen live to CityNews 1130 to keep up to date with this developing story. You can also subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today