Linda Annis

Surrey: Councillor Linda Annis says the sucking sound taxpayers hear coming from city hall is the mayor’s proposed new police department swallowing up “every available dollar at city hall” at the expense of road repairs, much-needed rinks and rec centres, and more police officers and firefighters for Surrey.

“You only have to look at the draft budget in any detail and it’s easy to see that the proposed Surrey Police Department (SPD) is being pushed forward by the mayor and his four councillors at a cost to absolutely everything else in our city,” said Annis. “Forget about new city infrastructure, road repairs,  new rinks or much-needed additional police and fire fighters for our growing city. This budget has just one thing on its mind and that’s funding the mayor’s police department. There’s nothing else on his radar screen.”

Annis added that even more troubling is the fact that the SPD policing budget numbers are based on the transition report produced by the Vancouver Police Department, with no verification from the City of Surrey’s financial department.

“Frankly, the numbers don’t add up and taxpayers shouldn’t trust them,” explained Annis. “There’s no one at city hall who can say with any authority that they are accurate. The mayor’s only focus is his proposed police department and this draft budget reinforces that everything else in the city is going to suffer. Frankly, the message from this budget is SPD at any cost, regardless of what it means to the rest of the city and our taxpayers and neighbourhoods. This kind of budget, with its single focus on giving SPD every available dollar means that as a growing city we will fall behind in our infrastructure.”

Annis also said the budget proposes additional city charges to businesses and developers that will make Surrey less affordable to families and less attractive to job-creating businesses.

“Every politician pays lip service to the idea of housing affordability, but every time we increase city costs on a housing project those costs get passed along to home buyers, making housing even more unaffordable,” noted Annis. “In addition, the city’s new charges to businesses will make us less attractive to new businesses and the jobs they create. If we’re ever going to stop being a bedroom community for Vancouver’s businesses, we need new businesses of our own right here in Surrey. That way we can give people a chance to live and work closer to home. Right now our people spend twice as much time driving as Vancouverites, something we can change by attracting businesses and jobs to our city.”

Annis said Surrey has one of the lowest residential tax rates in the region and a lower staff-to-taxpayer ratio than other cities such as Vancouver, but a growing city needs to keep up with its growth and not fall behind in city services or infrastructure.

“We’re a growing city that’s attracting 300 families every month,” noted Annis. “Good infrastructure, the right number of police and firefighters, and public amenities such as rinks and rec centres are critical to building the kind of Surrey our residents want and need for their families. This is a short sighted budget that is going to hurt all of us today and tomorrow.”