EDITORIAL: Surprise party

An extra $100 tax levy is a holiday gift that Surrey property owners did not expect

It’s a New Year’s gift Surrey residents didn’t expect.

All property owners must fork over an additional $100 tax levy this year, or place the city’s ambitious capital program at risk.

Call it what you will, it amounts to a flat tax of $100 for those who own their own homes – and will no doubt be passed down to renters, as well. (As will the 28 per cent increase in secondary-suite fees – another $116.)

Meanwhile, Surrey First politicians – swept into office across the board in November’s election – say the need for the levy comes as just as much of a surprise to them as it does to residents.

That’s why they never mentioned such a possibility during the election campaign. The coalition said during its campaign that its policing promises could have been covered by growth revenue, dividends from the city’s development corporation and an increase in secondary-suite fees.

What boosted our tax bills by another $100, without public discussion, debate or warning? Finance committee chair Tom Gill said there were unanticipated costs, including a benefits increase to the RCMP and a pay increase to Surrey firefighters totalling $6.5 million, that combined to jeopardize the capital program.

Mayor Linda Hepner also blames unexpected costs for sending optimistic estimates sideways. It was a shock to her that operating just one of Surrey’s pools was going to cost $2 million annually, she said.

Aside from that, comment on the issue from our Surrey First representatives has been disappointingly scant. Some are new to civic government, admittedly, but some – like Hepner and Gill and Couns. Judy Villeneuve, Barbera Steele, Mary Martin and Bruce Hayne – have been in office for years.

Anyone who controls a family budget knows that unexpected costs can derail the best laid plans. But isn’t having a handle on these things on a civic level the reason we entrust politicians with our votes and tax dollars?

Isn’t that why, figuratively speaking, they get paid the big bucks?

Now we’re facing another $100 hit to our family budgets, because we didn’t realize – and evidently Surrey First politicians didn’t either – that city finances are a matter of by guess and by golly.

While nasty surprises might be expected now and then, subsequent silence from our newly elected representatives isn’t quite what we expected when we cast our votes.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Surrey-White Rock MLA-elect Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA-elect Stephanie Cadieux have each been given a portfolio as an Opposition critic. (Contributed photos)
BC Liberals give Halford, Cadieux critic responsibilities

Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock MLAs to help keep eye on majority NDP government

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Most Read