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Surrey draft budget not yet ready for public review

Councillors expressing concern, as last year’s was publicly released by Nov. 16
File photo Black Press Media

When will Surrey residents be able to have a look at the city’s next budget?

The City of Surrey’s proposed budget for 2021 was set out for public viewing on the city’s website by Nov. 16, 2020, but the timeline for budget 2022 is a mystery.

“All I can tell you is that we are working on the budget,” Coun. Laurie Guerra told the Now-Leader on Monday. “I’m as eager to see it as you are but at the same time it has to be right for Surrey residents.”

Coun. Doug Elford said it’s been postponed. “We were supposed to have a meeting today and it was cancelled, so I’m not quite sure what the timelines are,” he said. “I’m suspecting it has something to do with the policing budget but I’m not sure. I guess it’s not unusual to do it in the new year but generally Surrey likes to get it done before the end of the year.”

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“I don’t know if we’re going to meet the end of the year timelines or not,” Elford added. “Other municipalities don’t approve their budgets, in many cases, until early in the new year.”

Coun. Brenda Locke expressed concern that it isn’t ready for the public yet.

“I don’t know when it is coming out, I have asked, and I am concerned that it isn’t out by now because we have to give the public two weeks for consultation and I don’t know when that date is,” Locke said. “We’re running out of time to get this in front of the public by the end of the year.”

Locke said she spoke with Kam Grewal, Surrey’s general manager of finance, and “he just said it isn’t ready to go to the public yet.”

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Coun. Linda Annis, meantime, says she’s “hugely concerned” a draft of the budget has not yet been made available. “As long as I’ve been a councillor it’s always been ready mid-November and it’s not ready yet.

“What’s the process? We have to have a budget going into 2022 and we have four weeks that we allow for public input.”

Amber Stowe, communications and media relations lead for the City of Surrey, issued this statement from the city’s finance department on Monday: “The Community Charter requires us to adopt our Financial Plan prior to adoption of the tax levies, which is mandated to be prior to May 15th of the related fiscal year. Therefore, we must adopt our financial plan and related rates and fees bylaws before the tax levy bylaws are adopted, i.e. prior to May 15th.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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