Surrey property tax bills expected to climb

$88 may be added to the average home; Delta tab also expected to jump by about $75.

Surrey and Delta residents should brace for an increase in their property taxes this year as respective councils grapple with how to balance the budgets.

Surrey Coun. Tom Gill told The Leader Tuesday the finance committee has met to discuss some of the city’s capital plans and costs, and how those can be met.

He said he’s planning a 3.9-per-cent property tax increase. That amounts to $70.28 in taxes added to the average home worth $671,000.

Add to that a one-per-cent road levy ($18.02), and the hike becomes $88.30.

The levy was introduced in 2007 as a temporary five-year measure. It has increased by one per cent since then and now represents $110 for the average home.

If Gill’s property tax proposal is passed as recommended, the road levy will amount to $128 on the average tax bill.

In addition, the city is looking at a 3.9-per-cent increase in fees and charges, such as business licences, dog licences and recreation centre fees.

In Surrey’s last five-year financial plan, council aimed to increase property taxes by 2.9 per cent this year. The current plan bumps that up by one per cent.

Utilities, including garbage, sewer and water, will increase by $27.50 per home – half of which is a result of Metro Vancouver increases.

The new $100 recreation and culture levy announced weeks after the election in 2014 will remain in place this year. Gill had considered increasing it, but has since dismissed that idea.

“The emphasis on this budget is (meeting the obligations for) some of the capital projects that we have,” Gill said.

Those include a new North Surrey arena ($45 million), ice rinks in Cloverdale ($30 million), recreation and library facilities in Clayton ($40 million) and about $10 million for the next phase of the museum in Cloverdale.

Surrey is also struggling with the ongoing $15-million cost of hiring 100 more police officers last year.

“That’s probably the biggest item in terms of how we should move forward with the balance of the plan,” Gill told The Leader in November.

Gill added the challenge is not only the cost of obtaining new officers, but also increases in salaries, benefits and “other cost pressures” – such as accommodating the new police with office space – that is presenting a predicament this year.

The RCMP received about a 2.5-per-cent increase in pay this year, he said, and a boost in benefits that was retroactive.

“That was not known a year ago,” Gill said.

He added the city is looking at hiring even more police officers next year, possibly as many as 17. Those 17 officers would cost the city just over $2.5 million.

The Surrey budget will be considered by the finance committee on Feb. 10 at Surrey City Hall.

Over in neighbouring Delta, officials are looking at a 3.5-per-cent increase in taxes, which will represent about $75 on the average home in that municipality valued at $650,000.

About one per cent of that is for municipal services, 1.5 per cent for a new fire hall, and 0.5 per cent each for new police officers and a turf field.



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