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Surrey holds line on property tax increase, reduces budget for police services

Last Updated Nov 16, 2020 at 10:28 am PST

FILE - Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum (CityNews photo)
Summary

The City of Surrey has just released its proposed budget for 2021

The operating budget for police-related services has dropped $5 million

Proposed budget includes levy increase to Capital Parcel Tax to help fund projects such as sports facilities

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Property taxes in Surrey are proposed to go up 2.9 per cent next year, while the 2021 budget includes a new $200 levy to help fund city projects.

Mayor Doug McCallum believes the city’s just-released proposed budget for 2021 is balanced, despite pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The levy increase is to the Capital Parcel Tax, which McCallum says will help a new capital program to pay for items, such as land acquisition for the Newton Community Centre and a new track and turf at the South Surrey Athletic Park.

The operating budget for police-related services — including the new Surrey Police Force — has dropped from a forecasted $189 million to a proposed $184 million in 2021.

The 2.9 per cent overall increase is the same amount as in 2020.

McCallum says Surrey council “recognizes the importance of not increasing the burden to our ratepayers” during the COVID-19 crisis.

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However, he adds, the pandemic will eventually come to an end, and Surrey’s budget plans for life after COVID-19 by investing in public projects, such as facilities, parks, and infrastructure.

“Surrey has weathered the economic storm caused by COVID-19 and budget 2021 puts us on a steady and stable course to navigate the new year and beyond,” McCallum says.

“On behalf of council, I would like to thank all of our city staff for the steps they have taken to ensure that the core services and programs are delivered in the most cost effective manner
during this time of the pandemic,” he adds.

In September, a bargaining agent for the RCMP called on the Surrey Police Board to reveal the true cost of the city’s plan to transition to a municipal force.

The National Police Federation, which represents more than 20,000 Mounties across Canada, outlined a list of costs it says Surrey hadn’t disclosed when it comes to the shift from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

Surrey’s contract with the RCMP ends March 31 and the municipal force is expected to launch the following day.

Earlier this year, the city was losing an average $4 million a month due to the pandemic and was forcasting a budget shortfall of about $40 million.