The City of Surrey has released its Five-Year (2022-2026) Financial Plan ahead of a public meeting next week.
Released late Friday (Dec. 17), the budget “has been prepared to reflect the uncertain times we are in with the COVID pandemic,” according to the City of Surrey. The budget can be found here.
Friday-afternoon news dump: @CityofSurrey just released its rush-rush budget, with proposed average property tax rate set at 2.9%. Graphic shows 9 new projects in #SurreyBC.@SurreyNowLeader @laurenpcollins1 @SBofT https://t.co/tVpTmgmhDo pic.twitter.com/fVrcKJbdyx
— Tom Zillich (@TomZillich) December 18, 2021
Council will be holding a finance committee meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 22 at 11 a.m. to discuss the budget.
The city touts that “for the fourth consecutive year, the proposed average property tax rate has been set at 2.9%.”
But earlier this year, many residents and businesses were shocked to find out their property tax hike was far greater than the promised 2.9 per cent.
A release from the city also notes the budget has “been built for a post-pandemic future by delivering new major public amenities and services for residents of the fastest growing city in B.C.”
In the 2022-2026 budget, the city states there are nine new projects being funded: a police training facility, a third field hockey turf and change room at Tamanawis Park, Crescent Park pickleball courts, Fleetwood fire hall #6 relocation, a bus layover facility, new park washrooms, park improvements, disc golf at Port Mann Park and site development for a future sport facility.
The city says that is in addition to 16 projects that were included in last year’s budget, such as the Newton Community Centre and land acquisition, phase one of the City Centre Sports Complex, Bear Creek Park Athletics Centre, Indigenous carving centres and new park shelters.
The city adds it has also budgeted $194.8 million for police-related services in the 2022 budget, which includes the funding of new salary increases for RCMP members. In the 2021 budget, it was $184 million.
According to a previous release from the city, “council has provided direction to staff to have the Five Year Financial Plan (2022-2026) finalized before the holiday break. It also requires Council to undertake a process of public consultation regarding the Five-Year Financial Plan before it is adopted.”
Some have criticised the timing of the budget release and its subsequent vote.
Coun. Linda Annis is slamming the City of Surrey’s “last-minute” budget consultation ahead of its holiday break.
She added that after being “weeks late in getting the 2022 budget together,” Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is “railroading it through a handful of public consultation days as people are getting ready for the holidays, with a council vote planned for Christmas Eve.”
Amber Stowe, the city’s communications and media relations lead, couldn’t confirm if there would be a meeting on Dec. 24. She said council will set the next meeting date on during Wednesday’s finance committee meeting.