Surrey to use new provincial fund to shave 5% from proposed 17.5% property tax hike

SURREY, B.C. — Councillors in Surrey, B.C., plan to use newly allotted provincial funding to reduce the city's proposed 17.5 per cent property tax increase slated for the 2023 civic budget.

During a finance committee meeting on Monday, councillors voted to send the budget back to staff so an $89.9 million allotment from the province's Growing Communities Fund could be applied to the bottom line.

A statement from the city says council has asked staff to use the money to cut the overall proposed property taxes from 17.5 per cent to no more than 12.5 per cent.

The revised budget is expected to be ready for review at council's next meeting on April 6.

Nearly 10 per cent of the original 17.5 per cent tax hike was related to the cost of Mayor Brenda Locke's pledge to keep the Surrey RCMP detachment and scrap a transition to a municipal police force.

Locke says Surrey's share of the provincial fund will shave five per cent off the cost of keeping the Mounties, but warned the budget would be "blown out of the water" if Surrey is ordered to proceed with the switch to a municipal force.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said he expects a decision from his ministry on either returning to the RCMP or staying with the Surrey police transition before property tax notices are mailed to residents in late May or early June.

The B.C. government approved the previous council's request for transition to the Surrey Police Service and must do the same for the move back to the RCMP, in a decision Farnworth has said will ensure a safe plan for effective policing throughout the region, not just Surrey.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2023.

The Canadian Press