Surrey councillors criticize 7% property tax hike for 2024

Surrey property owners can expect to pay more this year after city council approved a combined seven per cent hike in its 2024 budget Monday night.

Council has approved a six per cent general property tax increase, along with a one per cent hike to the road and traffic levy. Together, the increase will amount to an extra $177 for the average single-family household.

The move follows last year’s 12.5 per cent property tax hike.

The city says the extra money will pay for new police officers, firefighters, bylaw officers and general inflationary costs.

“I am proud to deliver a progressive, forward-thinking financial plan that considers the needs of our ever-growing population while being mindful of the financial stresses our residents face during these times of inflation,” Mayor Brenda Locke wrote in a statement.

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Click to play video: 'Surrey approve revised property tax increase for homeowners'

Surrey approve revised property tax increase for homeowners

The budget includes money for 13 new capital projects, including the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex and $310.6-million Newton Community Centre, which will become the city’s largest community centre.

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Secondary suite fees are also being increased and will cost $155 per suite.

However, opposing councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra say a previously passed 3.5 per cent utility fee hike means the actual cost to taxpayers is a 10.5 per cent increase.

“Mayor Locke’s administration has shown a shocking disregard for the financial stability of Surrey’s families. This budget doesn’t just fail to address the pressing needs of our community; it actively exacerbates our existing affordability crisis,” the Safe Surrey Coalition councillors wrote in a joint statement.

Nara says the increase to secondary suite fees “further burdens residents already struggling to find affordable housing solutions.”

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Click to play video: 'B.C. public safety minister says Ottawa on board with Surrey police transition'

B.C. public safety minister says Ottawa on board with Surrey police transition

They also blame the city’s lengthy and heated battle with the province over the transition from RCMP to a municipal police force.

Earlier this month, the city rejected a $250-million deal with the province to help offset the costs of the transition and spare property owners from tax hikes associated with the switch.

“The $136 million squandered on futile political battles with the Province could have been a lifeline for our community, easing the burden of rising living costs and inflation,” the statement reads.

However, Locke took aim at the province’s continued efforts to push ahead with the transition and claims if the city is forced to switch policing services it will have to pay a minimum of half a billion dollars more over the next decade than if it stayed with RCMP.

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“The fact is, Surrey Police Service is putting a financial strain on our ability to deliver new projects,” she said in a statement.

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth is expected to announce Tuesday exactly when the Surrey Police Service would take over from the RCMP.

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