Surrey set to ramp up taxes

Planned budget calls for increase of $100, or $250 if a homeowner has a suite

Surrey is planning an increase in property taxes

Tax bills in Surrey will be going up almost $100 next year, or nearly $250 if the home has a secondary suite, according to City of Surrey financial staff plans.

Council won’t be considering the increases until December, but city staff and Coun. Tom Gill, also an accountant who chairs the city’s finance committee, are already hammering out the details.

Surrey is planning its usual 2.9 per cent increase ($40.20 on the average home worth $615,000), another one per cent road levy ($13.86), along with a $22 increase in the drainage fee, a $5.90 bump in water charges, and a $16.40 jump in sewer fees.

Surrey is not considering an increase in garbage fees this year.

If the home has a secondary suite, however, the homeowner will be paying another $148 annually, bringing the secondary suite service fee to $395, an increase of 37.5 per cent.

That will bring the total tax bill for the average Surrey home to $2,620, or $2,768 for homes with a suite.

In addition to that, homes with secondary suites that are not on water meters will be paying $844 for utilities such as sewer ($439), water ($264) and garbage pickup ($141).

Gill said city hall has heard loud and clear from residents that they want owners of homes with suites to pay their fair share.

“In terms of the significant secondary suite fee increase, the objective is to fairly and equitably support amenity infrastructure requirements utilized by all of our residents (pools, recreational centres, turf fields – all in the Build Surrey Program) plus support standard infrastructure such as road improvements,” Gill said Wednesday.

The city has identified 23,500 suites so far, and expects to find another 1,000 this year.

Gill expects that secondary suite service fee will generate almost $10 million annually.

The drainage fee increase on all homes is higher than normal because the city is now collecting for localized flooding due to global warming, Gill said.

On the spending side, Surrey is planning to hire 12 more police officers. How many of those will be Community Safety Officers is up to the Officer in Command.

Surrey is also expecting to hire four more firefighters and will budget for a Manager of Animal Control.

Some of the capital projects the city will be paying for next year include infrastructure improvements at Newton Athletic Park ($2.9 million), a covered youth park in Cloverdale ($1.5 million), advanced design work for a multipurpose space in Fleetwood ($1.3 million of the $15.5 total paid over future years), design of an artificial turf field ($500,000 of the $2 million total).

Surrey is also planning to budget $16 million next year for the $41-million Guildford Pool and $20 million for the $53-million Grandview Pool.

Surrey has also experienced some unexpected costs, perhaps the most significant of which is $9 million in wire theft over the last three years.

Paying for that damage has come from a pool of money which will soon be depleted, Gill said.

The budget will be considered by council on Dec. 10.

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