Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Surrey delivers cost-effective, critical services for its residents

Local government plays an important role in the lives of everyone in Metro Vancouver. If all levels of government shutdown for a week, you’d feel the impact first from a shutdown of local government. Local government provides the services that we relying on for our daily lives. Without local government, there would be no running water, working sewer system, or garbage collection. Without local government, there would be no police or fire protection. Traffic lights and street lights would also start to breakdown without the constant maintenance performed by local government workers.

Local government also funds libraries, community centres, recreation programs, and parks. Living without these services would be a real drag. If you want to see the various services that we receive from all levels of government, check out an infographic I commissioned.

All municipalities in BC are required to publish an annual report. This report must contain the audited financials for a municipality, information on municipal service and operations, plus state municipal goals and the progress towards those goals.

The City of Surrey recently release their 2013 annual report. One of the things that I like about Surrey’s annual report is that they have a graph that compares municipal services to other household expenses.

2013 Average Surrey Household Expenditures vs City Services. Source: City of Surrey Financial Services Division. Based on an assessed value of $643,561. Select graph to enlarge.

What is missing from this graph is the amount of money that is contributed to TransLink in property tax. Based on the average residential assessed value of $643,561, $209 would go to TransLink. On the graph, that would slot in between “Telephone – Land Line” and “Engineering & Roads”. People in Surrey pay more per month for their cable, Internet, and cell phone service than for most services provided by local government.

As a taxpayer, I believe that we receives excellent value from the money that we contribute to local government.

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