City of Surrey proposes 2.9% average property tax increase in 2022

Dec 18 2021, 8:33 pm

Metro Vancouver’s second largest city is proposing an average property tax increase of 2.9% to support its proposed 2022 budget.

Late Friday afternoon, only days ahead of Surrey City Council’s scheduled deliberations on December 22, the City of Surrey released its proposed budget for next year.

If approved, it would be the fourth consecutive year the annual average property tax sees a 2.9% increase.

However, the 2021 increase also included the tripling of the flat-rate capital parcel tax from $100 to $300. An increase of 2.9% on the capital parcel tax is proposed for 2022.

“Ensuring that the average property tax rate remains constant remains a priority for Council,” said Surrey mayor Doug McCallum.

“By keeping the property tax rate the same for the fourth year in a row provides stability and certainty for our residents as we work our way through the evolving COVID pandemic. While Council has held the line on property taxes, we have also made sure that Surrey is prepared to thrive when COVID is behind us.”

Additionally, Surrey’s fees for water connections, sewer connections, and solid waste disposal services will each increase by 2.9%, which does not include Metro Vancouver Regional District’s separate portion and their respective planned increases. The municipal government has a 21% share of the overall utility and service fees, while the regional district has a 79% share.

Surrey’s municipal government’s 2022 operating budget is proposed to reach $528 million, with forecasted incremental increases over the next five years towards a $569 million operating budget by 2026.

In contrast, Vancouver City Council recently approved the controversial measure of a 6.35% average property tax hike in 2022 to support its $1.7-billion operating budget for the year.

For the 2022 Surrey operating budget, the 2.9% property tax increase is expected to raise revenues by $11.62 million. From the city’s organic population and building growth alone, the property tax revenue is also forecast to naturally grow by $1.84 million.

The city is also expecting $1.62 million in other new taxation revenue due to anticipated growth, and $2.19 million in net departmental revenue increases and other revenue changes.

Overall for 2022’s operating budget, the city is expecting a total operating revenue increase of $26 million.

Notable operating expenditure increases for Surrey include negotiated union wage increases of 2% in 2021 and 2022, 2.5% in 2023, and 2.75% in 2024, and the elimination of late fees and overdue fines, which is expected to carry an annual cost of $260,000. According to city staff, the effort and resources used to collect the amount of library fines cost about half of what is generated in overdue fines revenue.

The city is also creating four new regular full-time staff positions to support its initiative to provide guaranteed permitting timelines for building development applications.

Increased costs for the new Surrey Police Service

In 2022, the City of Surrey’s total operating costs for its police services will reach $195 million — up from $184 million in the previously anticipated budget for the year.

This includes $96.7 million to the RCMP, representing the proportionally reduced level of policing services as the city continues to transition and grow its newly formed Surrey Police Services (SPS).

The SPS will receive an operating budget of $72.5 million, and the City Police Support Services (CPSS) required to support the transition will cost $25.6 million.

The transition from RCMP to SPS policing is set to occur in two phases, with the initial phase that started in November 2021 establishing 29 SPS sworn members to assume some duties alongside with the RCMP. A substantial growth in the size of the SPS is anticipated for 2022.

The city has noted that it could incur unexpected additional one-time transition costs, including $8.5 million for longer than anticipated federal security clearances, and $9 million if the RCMP is unwilling to demobilize at the required levels to match for SPS deployment.

Additionally, the city is facing a $25-million shortfall in its policing budget due to increased costs relating to the collective agreement between the RCMP and the federal government for the years 2017 to 2022. This will be covered by a combination of overall 2021 budget efficiencies and temporary internal borrowing, which will be included in the CPSS budget and repaid over 10 years.

Largely covered by the transition of operating funds currently expended to the RCMP, the operating budget for the SPS will grow to $202.5 million in 2023, $211 million in 2024, $216 million in 2025, and $221.5 million in 2026.

New construction and infrastructure

The City of Surrey is proposing a $542-million five-year capital budget, with 2022’s capital budget of $175 million set to be the largest annual budget through 2026.

This includes a new Newton Community Centre replacing the Rona store at 6965 King George Boulevard. Construction is expected to begin in late 2022 or early 2023 for an opening by 2025, with the initial $100-million cost covering the aquatic centre component of the community and recreational centre complex.

The municipal government is also advancing its plans to build the new Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex, a major expansion of City Centre Sports Complex, the new Bear Creek Athletics Centre, a new TransLink bus layover facility in Surrey City Centre, and a new Interactive Art Museum. A new police training facility for the SPS is also expected to carry a cost of $4 million.

Other projects funded by the 2022-2026 capital budget entail an additional field hockey turf for Tamanawis Park, pickleball courts at Crescent Park, a relocation of Fleetwood Firehall No. 6, disc golf at Port Mann Park, new park washrooms, and park improvements.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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