Proposed Surrey City Budget A Public Safety And Financial Minefield: Councillor Linda Annis

City budget is going in the wrong direction with taxpayers picking up the tab

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says the proposed 2021 city budget now before council is a “public safety and financial minefield” that will hurt the city and cost taxpayers now and in the years to come.

“This budget includes a massive property tax increase, more than $130 million in borrowing, and a $45 million cut to the RCMP,” said Annis. “In addition, we’re actually borrowing $7 million to pay operating expenses, something every business and family in Surrey knows is no way to stay afloat or manage your home or business. We’re literally spending more than we’re taking in and that always costs taxpayers in the long run.”

Annis said the draft budget, the incredible tax increases and the city’s struggling finances are connected by a straight line to the growing cost of the mayor’s proposed police department where every available dollar, even during the pandemic, is being syphoned off to pay the growing cost of the SPD.

Annis said the budget “should go back to the drawing board” because it is not ready for a council vote and needs a serious rethink. “When you go through the numbers and you look at the direction of this budget I think we’re headed in the wrong direction, all at the expense of our taxpayers,” noted Annis.

“These are tough economic times for residents and business owners alike and any tax increase just adds more sleepless nights for people trying to make ends meet. For instance, the mayor’s commitment to limit the increase to 2.9 per cent is one more broken promise, particularly when you see that the parcel tax is tripling. In 2020, the parcel tax raised $17 million, next year it will raise an expected $49 million, and over the next five years it will take in some $248 million. Guess who is paying that? Tripling the parcel tax means homeowners with a $700,000 home will face an overall tax increase of approximately 15 per cent while a home worth $1 million will see a tax increase of almost 12 per cent.”

Annis said the $45 million cut in the RCMP budget means the RCMP will be out of money by October 1, and she questions whether the mayor’s proposed Surrey Police Department will be completely up and running by the end of September.

“I look at the proposed transition schedule and process and frankly I think this arbitrary cut to the RCMP puts public safety at risk in our city,” explained Annis. “That cut to the RCMP assumes the RCMP will be transitioned out and the SPD will be running things. But there are a lot of assumptions in that schedule and I definitely see serious holes that put our city at risk. Even the SPD chief recognizes that the transition is a long and complicated process, something the mayor has never understood or taken into account.”

Annis said she supports hiring more police and firefighters, but has serious concerns about the draft budget sitting in front of council.

“Essential expenses for more firefighters and police will always have my support, but I look at this draft budget and frankly I don’t like what I’m seeing,” added Annis.

“These are not normal times, people are struggling, and so are our city’s finances which to me means taking the budget back to the drawing board and coming down on the side of taxpayers.”






Leave a Reply