Selling Off Our Future
There is one very controversial Corporate Report (CR) which will get some attention at Monday night’s (June 15, 2020) Surrey Council meeting. ‘Corporate Report (CR) R089 COVID-19: Emergency Operations Centre Update‘ identifies how the City has been impacted in all areas and what options there are to consider. There isn’t any good news in this. The $42 million dollar deficit is clear. To solve this, there are some very crappy things coming forward and I’ve taken the liberty to cut and paste them here for reference.
General Managers have been tasked with reducing their current expenditures relative to budget and contribute a minimum of $8.0M toward mitigating the budgeted shortfall. This will be done by deferring capital expenditures (no new fire apparatus) use of consulting services, travel & training budgets, and utilization of overtime. Potential $8 million savings.
Most major civic facilities including Parks, Recreation & Culture and Library facilities remain closed until early September and possibly longer. Potential $6 million savings.
Staff are deferring the opening of Clayton Community Center until the first quarter of 2021. Potential $2.5 million in savings.
Cloverdale got shafted with the cancellation of the ice arenas and now this. Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw Cloverdale, screw Cloverdale!
Vacant positions across all departments will remain unfilled until 2021 with the only exception being critical roles required to deliver essential services. This “gapping” of positions will put additional workload on current staff, service levels to the public will be moderately impacted in the short term; however, this will not be sustainable in the longer term.
Staff is asked to do way more with less and get used to it. Just what staff needs, to be added to the pandemic stressors. Potential savings on the backs of City staff is $2 million.
Staff are eliminating the general funding associated with the downtown YMCA project, and utilizing these funds as a mitigating measure to minimize the forecasted budget shortfall. Potential $8.3 million savings.
Every aspect of Downtown Surrey with respect to recreation was anchored around the YMCA. The closure of the North Surrey Rec Center was based on a partnership with YMCA and now it’s vanished. Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw City Centre, screw City Centre.
Staff are differing (sic) the Newton Athletic Fieldhouse project to a future year. This project can be reconsidered as part of the 2021-2025 Capital Budgeting process. Potential $2 million saving.
Staff are eliminating of the budgeted (their words) Newton Urban Park. This project can be reconsidered as part of the 2021-2025 Capital Budgeting process. Potential $1 million saving.
Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw Newton, screw Newton!
Staff are reducing expenditures related to On-Going Capital for 2020 by $1.0M relative to budget. Although this budget is important for the maintenance and enhancement of city assets, the proposed one-time reduction will result in modest impairment of said city assets, this is not a sustainable option on a long term basis and should be considered a one time usage. Potential $1 million savings.
The big one will be below. They are going to consider reallocation of these reserves to take care of the budget shortfall of $40 million.
Reduction of Non-Statutory Reserves
The City maintains various reserves that are utilized to predominantly fund current and future capital requirements, some of these reserves are restricted by legislation (for example, Development Cost Charges) and others are not restricted. Reserve levels for the City have been maintained, however not necessarily at ideal levels due to fiscal limitations we now face. Staff may have to resort to utilize a portion of the following non statutory reserves on a strictly one- time basis to mitigate the forecasted budget shortfall in 2020:
- Green City;
- Corporate Contingency;
- Revenue Stabilization;
- Snow Removal; and
- Equipment Replacement Reserve.
The value utilized from each non-statutory reserve will be reported to Council in the future, once the actual shortfall is quantified.
These reserves are at risk. Money from developers for the Green City Fund was paid, for the explicit reasoning to replace the trees removed during the construct of a development. How is this conscionable to anyone on Council?
What you won’t see in this report is any kind of reduction in the Surrey Police Department transition spending. Why would, or who would, ever contemplate digging into non-statuary reserves when you have SPD transition money at your fingertips? What is the hurry to move the SPD transition at a time when the planet is going through the most unprecedented pandemic in history? If there ever was a time in history to press pause, it’s now. Spending on the SPD transition at the cost of all other items make ZERO economic sense.
This type of spending is contrary to everything we see from a Federal and Provincial level. Even Dr. Henry wants people to be recreating more and not less. The cutting of programs and the pillaging of the reserve funds is selling off our future. This CR clearly states, “the future does not live here.”
All of this will be discussed “virtually” Monday night. It’s hard to believe that staff cannot configure a 200 seat Council Chambers to accommodate 9 people so we can actually see them all at once. So, we can be assured there isn’t any influence on the other side of a Zoom screen, so we can actually see their hands raised when voting, so we can see all their faces at once as our future sinks into the sunset.
Open and transparent….NOT!
Click on the link below, to see the full 56 page PDF document, from the City of Surrey website:
Self serving actions by the buffoon Mayor McClown and his 4 zombie counsellors.
Mike, this is crazy but what would you do instead? Tell me what a reasonable plan looks like.
The police transition should be paused. Look at the shortfalls (which oddly enough don’t include the $38.8 million liability to Translink) on Q-2 and see what the real deficit will be. Our City, like others, could look to other levels of government for a short term loan rather than selling off future assets… of which I’m sure Doug will do. Don’t forget he started his 2018 term by saying the books are so bad that they had to make cuts. Now the books are worse, but the $129 million plus for the SPD is immune. Spending this transition money is like buying new tires on a vehicle that can get another 5 years of driving without worry. Take the transition money and use it for economic stimulus projects like every other government on the planet is doing.
If your car had tires that need to be replaced in 3 years, would you buy new ones today, even though your income had been reduced? That’s the analogy I see here. Pause the transitional spending is the simplest answer at a time where there is so much uncertainty. I would hope as well, that budget items that are associated to capital replacement, can be amortized with an additional year. I have confidence our staff can find more ways if they are allowed the latitude to look at ALL options.
What can we do about this?
Send your concerns to all of council along with any other levels of government and explain your concerns. Write to the papers (home delivered and online) and most importantly, have the discussions with your family, friends, neighbours…etc!
These are unprecedented times and even if you thought a city police force was for the best, economically and socially, this is not the time. There is obviously financial devastation caused by the pandemic and the social unrest as well is not conducive to beginning to implement a totally inexperienced, understaffed police force. There are too many Surrey citizens that do not see the need for a new police force, just changes in the existing police force. City police are not exempt from complaints. They have the same policing problems that council and the mayor are using to get rid of the RCMP. The RCMP come with many advantages for our city and just need to be sufficiently funded. The cost to implement this change is prohibitive and will not result in more safety or a better trained police force. I would really relish hearing all the ways this new police force will contribute to more safety and less crime. If McCallum thought for a minute that the majority of the residence of Surrey really wanted this, he would have a referendum to prove it. However he is afraid it will prove the opposite. He proclaims that he was mandated to replace the RCMP but he basically was voted in because he was the only person who said they would extend the skytrain. I am very disappointed that the province has not stepped in using their authority because it has been painfully obvious that there is a lot of disagreement over whether we should replace the RCMP. I think that the mayor is continuing to push this through at a time when many are suffering and have other things to think about. I also think he is painfully aware that his behaviour will not result in reelection. When you see all the areas where Surrey is going to be underfunded because of his vendetta against the RCMP, it is truly criminal.
DON’T ROB GREEN CITY FUND – PUT CITY POLICE FUNDING ON HOLD
Whereas the citizens/taxpayers of the City of Surrey have EARNED the right to the Green City Fund to be used only for the purpose it was initiated, since it is they who have the
-constant disruption of peace and quiet as construction 7:00-10:00, Monday to Saturday, including statholidays; and, “owners” on Sundays
-constant street traffic interruption in their residential side streets
-constant construction vehicles, many times at small (house) construction sites there are no flag people
-constant destruction of decades-old defined neighbourhoods
-constant clogged streets wirth tenant vehicles, since Surrey doesn’t enforce its by-law regarding owner living in house and one legal suite
-constant onslaught on facilities: schools, libraries, hospitals, recreation centres
-constant loss of trees and their life-giving oxygen
-constant crowding of schools and seeing their children in portables
-constant crowded hospital emergencies and the delay of surgeries
-constant thinning of emergency response personnel (police, ambulance, fire)
Surrey’s common green spaces and trees are paramount to the health and well-being of Surrey citizens/taxpayers as many cannot “distance by going for a weekend jaunt to Kelowna during covid-19”; or, “distance by vacationing in Mexico”. The Whalley area is a growing area with one of the poorest postal codes in the province, yet their reasonably-priced pool is gone!
-Constantly, variances from side/front/back minimum set-back by-laws are allowed in developments
-Constantly, variances from minimum stream set-back by-laws are allowed in developments
-Constantly, Surrey’s life-giving oxygenating tree canopy is shrinking
These variances are really robbing the people of Surrey of the common areas there for the benefit of all citizens of Surrey. Common areas are not generous. They are MINIMUM. Developers appear to enjoy presumptive rights to have these MINIMUMS reduced even further.
The degradation of their common areas is compensation to the citizens via the Green City Fund. Payments into the Green City Fund can be seen as “bribery” or “enticement” to allow for variances
Where oh where, in City Manager Vincent Lalonde’s COVID-19: Emergency Operations Centre Update, does he address the biggest impact on Surrey taxpayers—-the syphoning of funds to the Surrey Police? Not in following:
Temporary Cost Savings ($19M) Other Departmental Savings ($8.0M)
439/733 Cautious Reopening of Major Civic Facilities ($6.0M)
440/733 Deferral of Opening of the Clayton Community Center to 2021 Quarter 1 ($2.5M)
440/733 Vacancy Gapping/Delay in Hiring ($2.0M)
2020 Capital Program Elimination/Deferral ($12.3M)
440/733 YMCA ($8.3M) Staff are eliminating the general funding associated with the downtown YMCA project, and utilizing these funds as a mitigating measure to minimize the forecasted budget shortfall
440/733 Newton Athletic Fieldhouse ($2.0M) Staff are differing the Newton Athletic Fieldhouse project to a future year and thereby diverting the $2.0M funding allocated to this project to mitigate the budgeted shortfall.
440/733 Newton Urban Park ($1.0M) Staff are eliminating of the budgeted Newton Urban Park and diverting the $1.0M funding allocated to this project to mitigate the budgeted shortfall.
441/733 On-Going Capital ($1.0M) Staff are reducing expenditures related to On-Going Capital for 2020 by $1.0M relative to budget.
Reduction of Non-Statutory Reserves
441/733 Staff may have to resort to utilize a portion of the following non statutory reserves on a strictly onetime basis to mitigate the forecasted budget shortfall in 2020:
i. Green City;
ii. Corporate Contingency;
iii. Revenue Stabilization;
iv. Snow Removal; and
v. Equipment Replacement Reserve.
CARP (aka Canadian Association of Retired Persons) has been advocating for a halt to this travesy for many moons. Services are being taken away not only from seniors, but also from their children and grandchildren. Mayor McCallum and his four callous councillors who always vote with him need to be stopped. The future of Surrey depends on governments that are accountable. What is wrong with the majority of our MLAs and MPs who are not speaking out!? And our premier and minister of safety? Today, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Shame on all the soulless elected officials for letting this travesty happen. There will be consequences.Note: You do not have to be retired to join CARP, nor do you have to be a certain age. http://www.carp.ca
I am a senior living in Surrey and I believe we must have a referendum on removing (or not removing) the RCMP. I believe we should keep the RCMP and think Mayor McCallum is making a huge mistake. If he goes ahead with this he will be voted out at the next election.
PLEASE LEAVE THE RCMP HERE IN SURREY. Especailly at this covid time, to spend such a huge amount on changing the police force is a stupid mistake. The cost to transition into a Surrey police force will be enormous – much more than McCallum originally stated. Furthermore, the training is going to take a considerable amount of time. DO NOT DO THIS!
The incompetency of elected members of council who are charged with the responsibility of representing all their constituents, must not continue to be bullied by the mayor, they need to call out, and change the current coarse of action, shelve the SPD until a true mandate is determined, not the mid teen percentage which Doug McCallum believes gives him the authority to forge ahead with a municipal police force which clearly 80% of the residents of Surrey do not want nor can they afford !!!
Do your job and represent the majority of the residents of Surrey !
The biggest glaring issues here is not stopping the Surrey police department transition! Have we not seen that pouring money into police is bullshit and that the policing system is broken with runaway abuses of power in the form of racism and violence! More money for police doesn’t fix any problems or reduce crime… I’m not saying we should get rid of the police but we should definitely DEFUND them!
During a budget crisis in our city why are we pouring millions of dollars into the police from other funds that effect our city and that have been earmarked for very different uses…?
This makes me mad!
IN RESOINSE TO SURREY BUDGET I am a senior and like the rest of the sensible people was looking forward to returning to the South Surrey pool which is the best place for my exercise and health maintenance after a very bad accident
I am not the only tax payer who wants transparency from the civic officials. this is not their money, but ours and in a democracy we have a right to expect to be heard and we will not put up with the current dictatorship and we will be heard I cannot believe we will sit back and let this happen PLEASE write or phone or contact your MP
I am currently researching a means of recall for this group of thugs that dominate our city So let us help each other to take back the reins of democracy and collectively we can overcome
I have been a long time resident of Surrey and have had enough of Doug McCallum and his band of thieves and he should never be allowed to push a police force at the tax payers expense I would love to have him removed from office and a real Mayor put in
Unfortunately there is no recall vehicle for civil officials in Canada
BC has the only legal recall system and it is just for MLA recall
I urge all surrey residents who are concerned about our future, to write/contact Victoria and the media for intervention and maybe the squeaky wheel will take us where we need to go
Hello Linda Roberts,well said,my gosh you early birds are sure on top of everything early in the morning.
Be well and stay safe.