Surrey budget proposes 9.5 per cent property tax increase for policing transition costs
February 18, 2023 By The Canadian Press
Feb. 18, 2023, Surrey, B.C. – The City of Surrey has released its draft five-year budget, allocating more than half of the property tax increases for 2023 to cover the costs associated with the police transition.
It says in a news release that the 2023 draft operating budget was created without a decision on policing in Surrey, but relies on the presumption it will retain the RCMP as the police of jurisdiction.
The city says maintaining the Mounties will cost about $235 million less over the next five years than the Surrey Police Force, but “there remains a shortfall of $116.6 million created by the transition process.”
To account for that, it says the budget proposes a 9.5 per cent General Property Tax increase.
This comes about three weeks after Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the director of police services wanted more information before deciding on the city’s plan to revert to the RCMP as its police force.
The new Surrey city council voted in December to send a plan to Farnworth requesting to keep the RCMP, while the Surrey Police Service asked him to reject that plan, saying halting the transition would mean firing 375 employees, dissolving two police unions and accepting “unrecoverable” costs of $107 million.
Mayor Brenda Locke, who campaigned on maintaining the RCMP, said in the news release Saturday that the policing transition “experiment” is now costing residents and businesses.
“The money wasted by the policing transition, combined with the so-called 2.9 per cent property tax rate for four years implemented by the previous Council, means we are now having to play catch up on core City services, such as the hiring of firefighters and bylaw officers,” Locke said.
“Surrey can ill afford to continue with the police transition and we are starting to set our finances straight with this budget.”
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