NEWS

Surrey tax increases could pay for new RCMP officers

12/15/2014 10:21 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST
Higher fees and taxes are needed to pay for Surrey mayor Linda Hepner's election promise of adding 100 new RCMP officers for the Surrey detachment, according to a report from the city's finance committee.

The City of Surrey presented its five-year financial plan to residents at a meeting on Monday.

The recommendations for new sources of revenue include:

- A property tax increase of 2.9 per cent

- A fee increase for secondary suites of $116, up from $412

- A "Cultural & Recreational Parcel Tax," which would be a flat fee of $100 per home

- A one per cent levy for roads

Ahead of the Nov. 15 municipal election, Hepner promised to tackle crime through an increased police presence, with an additional 100 officers next year, and an additional 16 officers added each year between 2016 and 2019.

According to the report by the city's finance committee, it would cost $14.5 million annually to hire those officers and the necessary support staff.

"You have two choices," city councillor and chair of the city's finance committee Tom Gill told The Early Edition.

"Either we reduce taxes and reduce the capital projects to be able to fund the police officers, or we look at a new means to be able to implement and then fund the capital programs that are being requested by the community as well."

Gill said the city doesn't want to put the breaks on projects like two new swimming pools, and upgrades to current recreation facilities.

"We've been very particular about what tax increases we've been implementing

Jordan Bateman with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was frustrated the cost of the officers was never addressed during the election campaign.

"I don't recall this surfacing in the debate during the election," he said.

"Most municipalities are still weeks, maybe months away from having this much detail in their next years' budget, so part of me is like, 'Good on Surrey for being a bit ahead of the game,' but I think this is information the public would have wanted."

The need for the City of Surrey to address crime has been in headlines once again this week, after 15-year-old Dario Bartoli was killed near Bakerview park early Saturday morning.

He was the city's 16th homicide of the year.

To hear more about Surrey's five-year financial plan, and what it will mean for residents, click the audio clip labelled: Tom Gill on new fees and taxes in Surrey

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