Surrey Mayor 'deeply dismayed' by $514 million 'spiralling' debt

Nov 27 2018, 8:45 pm

The City of Surrey needs to bring its ‘spiralling debt’ under control, with a review of the municipal government’s finances led by the new City Council revealing the municipality currently has a debt of $514 million.

“When the books were shown to me, I was deeply dismayed and shaken to the core to see how much debt the City of Surrey has been carrying,” said Mayor Doug McCallum in a statement today.

“The fact that the debt load is at $514 million is simply untenable and frankly, irresponsible. When I was previously Mayor for nine years, I took great pride in running the city’s finances by saving first and avoiding debt. Council and I have agreed to immediately bring the city’s fiscal house in order.”

City Council will not be providing any further information until it has the opportunity to review a new budget report that will be presented at the meeting scheduled for December 11. Based on McCallum’s commentary today, the municipal government’s debt is largely linked with the City’s ambitious capital plan of building new buildings and infrastructure.

McCallum says City Council will be asking City staff to create a budget that will cut down the debt by “embracing the principle of pay as you go.”

“I want to assure the citizens of Surrey that the services and programs that the city delivers will not be impacted and they can expect the same high level of service as before,” added McCallum.

“What we will be doing as a Council is determining what makes the most fiscal sense for our ratepayers and how to responsibly proceed with capital projects. In short, we will not mortgage the city’s future and will operate like a regular household by saving up and paying as we go.”

According to the 2018-2022 Five Year Financial Plan by the previous City Council, the municipal government had an annual budget of $752 million and $788 million for the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, respectively.

Over this period, the municipal government plans to spend about $2 billion on its capital plan, entailing new and renewed community and recreational facilities, road infrastructure, and utilities and equipment.

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