Surrey City Hall (File photo).

Surrey policing and park costs rise in 2017, as revenues also climb

Increase in city expenses included policing costs, parks and rec, as well as roads and traffic safety

The City of Surrey has released its 2017 Annual Municipal Report and while there was opportunity on June 25 for the public to speak to it, no one did.

Included in the annual report is the city’s Statement of Financial Information which outlines the city’s activity in 2017. Finance Manager Kam Grewal described the city’s position as “strong” at year’s end.

The city’s revenues last year totalled $1,024.3 million, an increase compared to 2016’s $914.7 million, while expenses also rose, from $698.8 million in 2016 to $737.2 million in 2017.

When it comes to expenses, Grewal wrote the jump was mainly due to increases in the RCMP contract (in all, the city spent approximately $152.8 million on police services last year, up from $148.4 million in 2016 and $133 million in 2015), as well as parks, recreation and culture programming (which climbed from $102.7 million in 2016 to $110.4 million last year). Other significant increases included the cost of roads and traffic safety, sewer and solid waste.

The increase in revenues, Grewal wrote, were “attributable primarily to additional property taxes, utility fees, licenses, permits, development cost charges and developer contributions. The additional revenue generated from the increased property related fees and taxes were required to support a $13.4 million budgeted increase in public safety (overall), along with a $15.6 million budgeted increase in support for necessary labour and inflationary cost increases and other various corporate funding requirements.”

In all, the City of Surrey received $24.7 million from other levels of government last year, including $12.8 million from the province, $3.5 million from the federal government, $6.8 million from TransLink and approximately $1.5 million from the UBCM Community Works Fund.

See also: Surrey council cost taxpayers more than $930,000 in 2017

See also: City of Surrey employees cost taxpayers more than $200M in 2017

Grewal noted that the trend toward construction of multi-family dwellings continued in 2017, as single family property values continue to increase. “The City Centre continues to attract large scale residential projects including low-rise and high-rise developments; all reflective of the continued growth in our population, which in turn, leads to strong housing demand.”

Grewal noted that the city continues to see steady population increase, and said now and in the future, young families choose to make Surrey home.

“Our current and future residents will require significant investments on the part of the City in relation to infrastructure, civic facilities and services,” Grewal wrote.

Grewal added that “with significant growth and the related demand for capital investments, coupled with increased demand for general City services including public safety and recreational programming, the city must continue to effectively manage its resources and exercise fiscal responsibility to ensure residents receive maximum value for their tax dollars.”

In summarizing the city’s 2017 activities, Grewal noted continued investment in civic facilities, including the new Cloverdale and North Surrey sport and ice complexes, and the Clayton Hub.

Grewal wrote that “perhaps none more important to the future of the City than our Light Rail Transit (LRT) project that has already commenced with preliminary works in 2017. LRT will shape and impact our City like no other capital project before it, laying the foundation to our City’s transportation needs for years to come.”

Highlighted in the annual report were “notable achievements” including the Surrey Outreach Team along 135A Street; an expanded “MySurrey” portal which includes new services to dispute parking tickets; as well as the city hosting four Pop Up Junk Drop events last summer which resulted in the collection of 1,000 tonnes of waste and recycle materials, 62 per cent of which was diverted from landfill. That’s in addition to the city seeing a doubling in participation of its Large Item Pick-Up program from 15 to 30 per cent. In all, the city reports a reduction in illegal dumping costs by more than 42 per cent.

The city also launched a 10-year economic strategy in 2017 “that lays the foundation for the creation of 36,200 jobs in Surrey’s priority sectors by 2025.”

The report notes Surrey is home to more than 17,015 businesses, including 2,642 new companies in 2017, which is a 21 per cent increase from 2016.

The document also highlighted a slew of awards Surrey received in 2017, including the Surrey Board of Trade’s Arnold Silzer Policing Initiative Award for the Surrey Outreach Team; the Distinguished Budget Award and Canadian Award for Financial Reporting from the Government Financial Officers Association.

The city’s parks and rec department won seven awards last year, including the National Award of Outstanding Achievement in New Media for Surrey Museum.

Surrey also won B.C.’s Top Employers Award in 2017, as well as Canada’s Top Employers for Young People. The Grandview Heights and Guildford Aquatic Centres, meantime, took home several awards last year, in the realm of architecture and design.

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