Taxes set to rise an average of $137 for Surrey homeowners

The increases are mostly attributed to increased public safety costs and capital projects.

Surrey City Hall

SURREY — Taxes are set to rise by $137 for the average Surrey home this year.

The city’s Finance Committee endorsed the hikes at a meeting on Monday.

The jump includes a property tax increase of $72 (or 3.9 per cent) for the average single family dwelling, assessed at $720,400 this year in Surrey. It will “predominantly be used to offset increased public safety resourcing and expenditures,” according to a city report.

There is another property tax increase of about $10 (or 0.54 per cent) for the average single family dwelling that will be used to support the city’s capital plans. This increase is to the city’s controversial $100 Capital Parcel Tax, introduced in 2014 weeks after Surrey First swept into all council seats.

An increase to the road and traffic levy of about $18 for the average single family dwelling is planned, and utilities are set to rise an average of $37.

Though the increases haven’t been officially approved in a city council meeting, the Finance Committee is made up of all of council so its endorsements typically pass.

Additional funding needs in 2017 for public safety are $13.4 million, according to a city report, and total 2017 funding needs are $29 million. The report notes the increases will be funded by a combination of property tax increases ($14.5 million), revenue generated from new growth ($6 million) and a 3.9 per cent fee increase and other revenue changes ($8.4 million).

The report notes public safety continues to be a “critical priority” for Surrey and the city plans to add 12 Mounties to the force in 2017 (at a cost of 327,000), bringing the total number of members to 831. This year’s budget also includes a more than $1 million expense for the annualization of 16 RCMP members added last October.

Other significant RCMP increases includes a more than $1 million increase for 2.5 per cent salary increases and nearly $3 million increased funding for Integrated Teams and E Division Administration.

Another 16 officers are planned to be added annually for 2018 to 2021.

The 2017 financial plan also includes the addition of three new bylaw officers, set to commence work next June, as well as a new bylaw support clerk. And the city plans to continue with the Newton Community Safety Patrol, which saw four community officers hired who focused in that town core.

Meanwhile, the city has many large capital project on the books, including a $52 million North Surrey Arena replacement, a new $41.8 million Clayton rec centre, a $35 million twin sheet arena Cloverdale, as well as a $10 million Surrey Museum expansion.

Councillor Tom Gill (pictured) said these large civic investments are crucial, given one third of Surrey’s population is under 19.

He said keeping youth on the right track “is not always to do with policing and RCMP. Being proactive is very important.”

Gill noted previous councils before he was elected didn’t make many large civic investments and said the city is still “playing catch up.”

“We are creating a new city,” he said. “We’re creating opportunities. We’re embracing change. Now we also need to understand that this (young) demographic coming through the system, we need to have the supports for them to become successful and pursue opportunities.”

That’s part of why Surrey First brought in the Capital Parcel Tax, he added, “so those funds are restricted for that particular use.”

Gill said even with Surrey’s proposed tax hikes, the city will likely be one of the lowest in the Lower Mainland again.

“The question always comes up – is that a good thing or a bad thing? If you are at that lower level, is it understood that perhaps there are certain civic amenities that are not being delivered, and is that the wish and the desire of the community? That’s always a tough conversation to have.”

New this year, Gill is pushing to provide “additional transparency” on tax invoices, showing residents what portion of the city budget is spent on public safety.

“If you only have one amount you see on your tax bill, you’re not sure if the dollars are going where they need to go,” he said.

“The intent is to show residents what our costs are associated to…. RCMP and the public safety office, fire services and bylaw enforcement,” Gill added. “The other thing I’m working on is to be able to articulate what we spend on parks, recreation and culture given that’s the single largest category outside of public safety in terms of a department.”

Last year, the city originally planned a 2.9 per cent property tax increase but the finance committee approved an increase of 3.9 per cent to pay for public safety increases while keeping up with planned capital projects. The bill for the average single-family home – valued at $671,000 in 2015 – jumped $88 for 2016, from $1,771 to $1,859.

See more: Surrey Board of Trade ‘cautiously’ supporting 2016 property tax increase

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

PHOTOS: Surrey’s Holy Cross to shoot for Fraser Valley title against Fox foes

Crusaders top Lord Tweedsmuir Thursday to earn trip to regional final at Langley Events Centre

Heritage Surrey launches time-lapse mapping tool

It matches local historical images to modern-day locations

VIDEO: Delta man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help finding missing 52-year-old

Police say William Michaels last seen on Feb. 19

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death has not been released

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

5 to start your day

Australian woman dies in avalanche at Whistler, two boys OK after falling through Coquitlam lake and more

Australian woman killed in avalanche at Whistler

The woman and her partner were reportedly rescued by ski patrol, but she did not survive

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Most Read