Surrey taxpayers should get ready for serious sticker shock: Councillor Linda Annis
Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says Surrey taxpayers should get ready for some “serious sticker shock” when it comes to the real cost of Doug McCallum’s police department.
“Doug McCallum promised that the cost of his proposed police department would be just 10 per cent more than the cost of the RCMP, but in fact that’s not even going to come close to the real cost,” explained Annis.
“The most recent numbers available for policing in the Lower Mainland show that Surrey’s police costs are about $284 per person while Vancouver’s are $463. The Vancouver Police Department was instrumental in building the model for the Surrey police department, and even Delta, where Chief Norm Lipinski worked before coming to Surrey, had policing costs of $359 per person.”
Annis said the complete lack of transparency around police transition costs means answers and real numbers are “virtually impossible” to come by. Instead, Annis says “we’re seeing a lot of smoke and mirrors” when it comes to police costs.
“The lack of accountability and transparency is shocking, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon,” said Annis. “Taxpayers and councillors are being kept in the dark about costs, and getting a straight answer is virtually impossible. For instance, dozens of city staff continue to work on police transition without those costs being billed to policing. Instead, those costs are buried in other city departments, reinforcing that any public numbers about police transition costs are questionable at best. Without transparency this is looking like a vanity project for the mayor, rather than something Surrey residents want or need. Meanwhile, when the smoke clears, our taxpayers will be saddled with the increasing cost of the transition, as well as the ongoing and increasing cost of a local police department.”
Annis said there is one RCMP officer for every 692 Surrey residents, compared to one VPD officer for every 518 Vancouverites, and one officer in Delta for every 574 residents.
“When you look at all of these numbers it’s easy to connect the dots and realize where we’re headed in terms of increasing policing costs here in Surrey,” noted Annis.
“Police costs under Doug McCallum are going to be a big surprise to taxpayers and definitely way more than his promised 10 per cent. When that happens, he’ll only have two ways to pay the bill: higher and higher taxes for both residents and businesses, or selling off city owned lands to pay the real costs he’s incurred.”
Surrey City Development Corporation managed and leveraged city lands but was disbanded, and Annis says that makes it easier for valuable city land to be sold off as one way to pay the bills.
“Meanwhile at UBC their land company leases land, rather than selling it,” said Annis. “As a result, UBC receives annual income from their land and will always own it. Here in Surrey once the mayor sells off city land it’s gone for good, and that’s not a sustainable way to pay the bills he is racking up.”
Annis added that the city has been forced to borrow $150 million to build the much-needed City Centre sport complex, Cloverdale ice centre, and new community centre in Newton, all because the mayor has “diverted every available dollar” at city hall and put it towards the growing cost of police transition.
“Somebody really needs to take away the mayor’s calculator because it’s clear he doesn’t know how to use it, and every taxpayer in Surrey is going to be paying the price, now and in the years ahead,” explained Annis.
“This is no way to manage our city’s finances and there’s more to come when the real costs of the mayor’s police force are made public. Hold onto your wallets, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
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