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

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

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

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read