Life will be getting yet more expensive for Surrey taxpayers if council on Jan. 30 approves city staff recommendations to raise water, sewer, drainage, and solid waste utility rates in 2023.
A corporate report authored by Surrey’s general manager of finance Kam Grewal and city manager Vincent Lalonde urges the city’s finance committee to approve the rate “adjustments” in preparation of Surrey’s 2023 Five-Year (2023-2027) Financial Plan.
“Self-funded programs, also known as utilities, follow the “user pay” approach that the City has applied consistently in the current and previous years’ budgets,” the report notes.
The report recommends a total increase of $13.54 per year for the average metered single-family dwelling that consumes 360 cubic metres of water per year; and $75.20 per year for an average business that consumes 2,000 cubic metres of water per year, and also recommends that a $6 and $12 increase to the water meter base charge for the average residential and commercial properties be applied.
For taxpayers who don’t have a water meter, their flat-water rate would be increased by $30.08 per year based on an ‘average’ water consumption of water by non-metered accounts, for residential customers estimated to be 800 cubic metres per year.
Moreover, Greater Vancouver Water District bulk water rates are projected to increase by an average of 12.35 per cent per year for each of the remaining four years of the Five-Year Plan, the report indicates.
“All of those utility issues are the ones that come from Metro,” Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said Tuesday. “You should know, they kept those as low as they could because they were going into an election year and that’s how Metro Vancouver managed that.
“We still have to have the finance committee meetings where we deal with it as well,” she told the Now-Leader. “But it is what we have to pay to Metro Vancouver for those fees, so I mean I can’t guarantee but I would expect it would be close to that.”
Locke said “cost implications” on taxpayers are keeping her up at night.
“It’s extraordinary, and then on top of that, people and their mortgages, it’s just a very challenging time. The finance committee hasn’t met yet but I can tell you certainly our team is very concerned about keeping the taxes just as low as we possibly can because it’s going to be a very difficult year for people and we just cannot put these kind of cost implications on the taxpayer.”
As for sewer utility rates, city staff is recommending an increase of $31.39 per year for the ‘average metered single-family dwelling’ and $174.38 per year for businesses while residents on flat rates will pay $69.75 more per year.
The Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District’s sewer rates are projected to increase an average of 21.80 per cent per year for each of the remaining four years of the Five-Year Plan, the corporate report states.
Meantime, the Drainage Parcel Tax for 2023, if this is approved by council, will be hiked to $242.47 from $235.64 per lot for residential, recreation and agricultural properties and to $591.89 from $575.21 for commercial properties.
Waste collection service will also get more expensive, if council adopts the recommendations of this corporate report. Last year, the tab for garbage, recycling and organics collection for single and multi-family household was $315.90 per year, and $157.44 for secondary suite customers. The report indicates that in 2023 tipping fee charges in Metro Vancouver will increase by five per cent – or $6 per tonne – making for tipping fee of $127 per tonne. “Metro Vancouver is projecting that the Solid Waste Tipping fee will increase by $7 per tonne annually from 2024-2026 and $8 in 2027,” the report adds.
For 2023 Surrey city staff is recommending a 5.6 per cent increase be applied, for an annual collection rate of $333.59 for single family and multi-family customers and $166.26 for secondary suite customers. “Staff also recommends increasing the rates for Apartment/Townhouse recycling customers by $1.84 to $34.77 and for Apartment/Townhouse recycling and organic customers by $2.42 to $45.64 for increased collection service costs,” the report states.