Message to Surrey’s new mayor and council: Show us the money.
Doug McCallum once again made an especially bold statement this week when he reiterated to reporters that taxes in Surrey won’t increase more than the Consumer Price Index, under his watch.
“That will be the maximum that we would go to,” he told the Now-Leader, one day after the election. This week, he added the assurance that this is “set in stone.”
These are bold words considering the mayor launched out the gate with even bolder – historic is perhaps the better word – moves to expand SkyTrain in Surrey and replace the RCMP with a new city force.
Currently the city spends just under $160 million – about one-third of its annual operating budget – on policing and pays 90 per cent of the RCMP’s costs while the federal government pays 10 per cent.
Under the new regime, Surrey will pay the full bill for policing.
“We would re-adjust our budget to cover that,” McCallum advised.
What does that mean?
It’s wait and see, as the new council hasn’t yet hammered out the budget on the policing file.
To be fair, it’s early days yet but rare is the council that moves as fast as this one has, and in such a big way, since being sworn in a mere 19 days ago.
Some experts are voicing skepticism that the city will be able to meet its goal on launching its own police force in two years – even McCallum’s own Safe Surrey Coalition colleague Councillor Brenda Locke is not entirely comfortable with that timeline.
McCallum expects a plan will be put to the provincial government in four to six months.
On the outside, that’s already a quarter way into the process and oftentimes the wheels of higher levels of government move slowly indeed.
McCallum and the Safe Surrey Coalition have set quite the banquet of big plans and certainly whet our appetites for more clarity.
With such a menu, who wouldn’t want a peek at the recipe?