SPS Calls for Independent Audit of Transition Costs
Over the long weekend, the City of Surrey released their draft 2023-2027 General Operating and Capital Budgets, which claim that a 9.5% general property tax increase is required in 2023 to fund the “policing shortfall”. Surrey Police Service (SPS) has repeatedly disputed the financial numbers used by the City to arrive at inflated costs attributed solely to SPS. Previously, the City attributed these same cost increases to the RCMP, citing the RCMP’s slower than anticipated rate of demobilization, security clearance delays, and lengthy RCMP decision making process.
There are a number of other factors that Surrey residents should be informed of when considering the cost of their policing, and any tax increases being proposed by the City. These include:
- The slowdown of deployments and cessation of RCMP demobilizations since the October 2022 municipal election. This added an estimated $5M in costs without the demobilization of RCMP officers.
- The City’s proposed addition of 25 new RCMP officers and 4 administrative staff in 2023.
- The retention of the RCMP would actually cost taxpayers $50M more in 2023 than continuing the transition to SPS, as there would be no need for the costs to “wind down” SPS (severance, legal, etc.).
- The fact that SPS officers currently makes up 45% of the City’s current targeted strength of 734 officers. If SPS was allowed to continue, that would increase to 80-90% by the end of 2023.
Furthermore, should the transition to SPS be approved to continue, the City’s cost estimates include a nine-month pause of the transition and five more years for the completion of the transition. Both of these assumptions would unnecessarily extend the transition timeline, resulting in higher costs than necessary.
“We are becoming increasingly concerned by the City of Surrey’s financial numbers that seem to be inflated and mischaracterized simply to call the viability of Surrey Police Service into question,” says Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. “Surrey residents don’t know who to believe and, quite frankly, I don’t blame them. There are many benefits that municipal policing will bring to Surrey, however I certainly understand that cost is a significant factor to residents. SPS would fully support an independent audit involving SPS, the City, and the RCMP in order to ensure taxpayers get the clarity they deserve on the policing transition.”
Surrey Police Service