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Surrey tax bills expected to climb more than $90 next year

  - File
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Tax bills are expected to jump by at least $90 next year for the average home in Surrey if the budget is adopted as planned next month.

Coun. Tom Gill, who chairs the city's finance committee, is calling for a "status quo" budget in keeping with the 2011 five year plan.

It means a 2.9 per cent tax increase ($38 on the average home worth $575,000) and a one per cent road levy ($13.50). Staff say that water and sewer services will see similar increases to last year, meaning hikes of $27 for water and $13 for sewer.

There's an expected increase for waste disposal fees, but that won't be known yet.

In all, it means the total bill for the average home will go from $2,731 to at least $2,820.

Of that, $1,400 is solely property tax, with the remainder being made up of utilities and other fees. The city points out it's still one of the lowest tax rates in the region.

The city is also expected to hire eight more firefighters next year.

And while the 2010 five year operating plan called for no new police officers next year, Surrey First promised 10 more in each of the next three years, so they are planned for next year's budget.

About half of next year's increase comes by way of utility costs, including water, sewer and waste disposal, which are largely driven by rates set by Metro Vancouver and third-party contracts.

Surrey just signed a contract with BFI for this city's curbside waste pickup, and Gill is in the throes of figuring out how that will impact residential rates.

One of the unknown factors is whether the city will spend $1.5 million for 10 years paying for new waste containers or pay for all of them up front.

Until details such as those are known, it's hard to say exactly how next year's garbage hauling costs will affect the tax bill.

The road levy – due to expire last year – will continue until 2015.

The initial purpose for the levy was for work on local side roads. It will now help pay for improvements on major arterials, such as King George Boulevard and Fraser Highway.

The city's finance committee is expected to consider the 2012 budget on Jan. 16.

@diakiw

 

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