Doug McCallum either tried to pull a fast one or can’t read a financial statement.
Either way, it’s bad.
Earlier this week McCallum’s people sent out a press release during the witching hour saying the new mayor is “shaken to the core” by a “simply untenable” situation wherein the city is “currently” shouldering a debt load of $514 million.
That’s some strong brew.
Oh-oh. Time to tighten the belt, and maybe backtrack on some major election promises – ones that are getting major push-back from residents?
But wait a minute, it turns out the City of Surrey’s 2017 financial statements reveal that debt load is actually $267.2 million.
So McCallum claims the debt is $514 million. The city’s own financial documents say $267.2 million. That’s a difference of $246.8 million. Metaphorically speaking, the sheer magnitude of this discrepancy makes the Grand Canyon look like a golf divot.
That is one stupendous math blunder and circumstantial evidence suggests the computational error is not owned by the previous Surrey First civic government, under whose stewardship the city just received an A+ rating from the C.D. Howe Institute, which champions fiscal responsibility.
Notably, we learned McCallum’s figure includes “projected debt.”
We’ve sought clarity from the mayor and head of the city’s finance department, which should be swiftly forthcoming considering so much was said of transparency, accountability and other similarly noble stuff during the election campaign. But what did we get?
A terse emailed statement from the mayor’s office saying, “We are about to start the public process and will not be making further comment at this time.”
So many questions unanswered. Clearly there is an information vacuum here that only Mayor McCallum can fill. Trouble is, he’s not returning phone calls.