Skip to content

Surrey unveils draft budget with 6% property tax increase

Related reports will be considered by the city’s finance committee on April 22
Black Press Media files

The City of Surrey is presenting a draft operating budget that would set a six per cent general property tax increase – meaning roughly $152 more for the average single-family dwelling – to address inflation “pressures,” new resources for policing, firefighting and bylaw enforcement.

Related reports will be considered by the city’s finance committee on April 22.

Mayor Brenda Locke called it a “forward-thinking budget that considers the needs of our ever-growing population.

“We have been prudent and kept our costs as low as we could with your tax dollars,” she said at Monday night’s council meeting.

“New revenues have helped but we’ve 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 improvements and amenities they deserve.”

Surrey’s budget last year came with a 12.5 per cent property tax hike after council rejected a plan that had the tax increase set at 17.5 per cent.

READ ALSO: Surrey council approves budget with 12.5% property tax hike

The proposed 2024 Five-Year (2024-2028) General Operating Financial Plan is based on “four key drivers,” the other three being a one per cent roads and traffic levy increase (roughly $25 more for the average assessed single-family dwelling) to support Surrey’s transportation needs, a secondary suite fee hike working out to $155 per suite for applicable dwellings, and, “generally,” user fee hikes up to 3.5 per cent “to partially offset the cost increases associated with providing city services,” according to a finance committee corporate report.

Meantime, a draft capital budget proposed for 2024-2028, according to a related corporate report, “represents the most significant financial commitment in the City’s history; with over $715.9M allocated over the next five years.”

Some initiatives to be addressed over the next five years include flat roof replacement for the Guildford Recreation Centre. HVAC upgrading for Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex HVAC, Fleetwood Recreation and Library glazing replacement, parking lot repairs, upgrades to the Bear Creek Skatepark, resurfacing for Bridgeview Tennis Courts, upgrades to the South Surrey Athletic Park Skatepark, playground expansion at McIntyre Park and William Beagle Park, and access control system upgrades for various civic facilities.

READ ALSO: Surrey council approves utility rate hikes

Morever, the city’s proposed Major General Capital Program earmarks $413.4M over five years to support 37 projects.

Among these are $310.6 million for the Newton Community Centre – which at 190,000 square feet will be Surrey’s largest community centre – $131.6 million for the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex, $65 million for phase one of the City Centre Sports Complex and $500,000 for phase two, $5.7 million for Tamanawis Park – third field hockey turf field and changerooms, $11.3 million for a new artificial turf field and parking lot for Cloverdale Athletic Park, $3.5 million for demolition of North Surrey Recreation Centre, $3.1 million for Softball City parking lot and sportfield light improvements, $2 million for truck parking improvements and $5 million for Surrey Archives/1912 Hall renovations.

Further, $25.5 million is earmarked for Nicomekl Riverfront Park, $1.4 million for Focus Newton, $1 million for phase one of Sunnyside Cemetery development, $1 million for chiller replacement at the Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex, $4 million to expand truck bays at firehalls 11 and 15, $900,000 for artificial turf replacement as Hjorth Road Park’s west field, $810,000 for renovating 1001 Steps, $3.8 million for new park washrooms, $700,000 to support a virtual Surrey Sports Hall of Fame, $4.8 million for a master plan and phase one of expanding Unwin Community Park, $550,000 to convert the Sullivan Heights Park cricket pitch to natural grass, $2.5 million for park improvements, $400,000 for a new digital LED display at South Surrey Arena, $3.7 million for Sunnyside Park ball diamond improvements, $14.4 million to relocate Fleetwood Fire Hall 6, and $2.3 million for a disc golf course at Port Mann Park.

Also on the list is $2.3 million for resurfacing the North Surrey Track, $1 million for sports court and pathway improvements at Robertson Drive Park, $4.6 million for a covered lacrosse box in Newton, $3.1 million for phase one of Grandview Heights Community Park, $1 million for sport facility site development, $7.5 million for Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex roof replacement, $5.3 million for North Surrey Community Park improvements, $3.9 million for a Newton youth park, $60 million for an interactive art museum in the city centre, $2.1 million for Cloverdale Athletic Park’s covered multi-sport facility, and $750,000 for Billy Hadden House upgrades.

Locke re-iterated at Monday’s meeting that council “has resolved to stay with the RCMP. If we are mandated to continue with the police transition we are facing an increased cost of a half a billion dollars over the next decade compared to the cost of the Surrey RCMP.”

She said the 2024 budget does not include “a variety of anticipated but unknown costs” if the city continues with the transition to the Surrey Police Service.

READ ALSO: Surrey Police Union denied intervenor status in transition court case

The Safe Surrey Coalition denounced the proposed tax hike, issuing a press release Tuesday calling it “unjustifiable” and “a clear indication of Mayor Locke’s disregard for the financial struggles faced by Surrey families.”

“Mayor Locke’s irresponsible handling of taxpayer dollars has led to a waste of $136 million on operating two police forces, driving property taxes to unsustainable levels and reducing investments in affordable housing,” Coun. Doug Elford charged.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
Read more