READERS’ OPINION: Flippant remark about city debt concerning to tax payer

This is from Marq C. Smith of Surrey:

I watched the Surrey Council meeting on the 23rd and was totally surprised by Councillor Tom Gill’s cavalier remark about Surrey incurring $212 million debt in 2013 when he was commenting on the SOFI report at the public hearing this week. While I appreciate that Surrey has the capacity to borrow as much as $1.2 billion, this offhand remark seems very flippant from a councillor who currently chairs our city’s Finance Committee. It sounded like he was saying that it’s “only” $212 million, and we have a lot more debt to look forward to.

While Surrey’s debt may be low in comparison to our borrowing capacity and in comparison with other municipalities, debt is not something to express pride over. What Councillor Gill, and possibly the rest of council, seem to fail to understand is the message that’s being sent to taxpayers: that debt like this is natural, and why would we, the taxpayers, be concerned? Why should we care that debt like this is incurred in such a short time frame and for outwardly appearing specious projects, instead of putting money where it would do more good? After all it’s not our money… it’s public money. Oh, wait!

We all know that public safety and crime continues to be the number one area of concern for Surrey residents and while, as the mayor says, throwing money out to hire more police may not be the answer, there is little evidence of any significant effort in exploring or implementing alternative initiatives to address public safety. The recommendations and strategies contained within the city’s award winning “Crime Reduction Strategy” now seem to be considered “old school”.

When Barinder Rasode had the unmitigated gall to suggest that perhaps Surrey could do more to keep our streets safe, she was ostracized from Surrey First, suggesting that no one in the current council wants to be told that the Emperor has no clothes. She seems to be the only one capable of understanding the heart of the matter. Certainly Councillor Gill doesn’t understand it.

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