Two Surrey city councillors say they’ve stepped down from the Parcel Tax Review Committee in protest against a 200 per cent increase in the 2021 budget capital levy.
Councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial, both of the Surrey Connect slate, issued a press release Monday saying the increase defies the “spirit and intent” of the levy.
“It is unfair and punitive during this time of financial insecurity,” Locke said. “It hurts everyone, especially those who can least afford it – seniors, single parents and families in modest housing will feel the brunt of this tax.”
Budget 2021 will be up for approval tonight during council’s virtual meeting. A public hearing was conducted last Monday, before the finance committee, after which the Safe Surrey Coalition members approved corporate reports related to the budget on a five to four vote.
During the public hearing callers slammed the capital parcel tax increase, which currently sits at $100 per parcel but under the budget will increase to $300.
“Are you guys aware that’s an increase of 200 per cent?” Whalley resident Dave Amero asked. “Not 10, not 20, not 30 – how about us pensioners?”
Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose called the $300 capital parcel tax “obscenely regressive.”
Mayor Doug McCallum, however, sang the budget’s praises.
“This, for the times, for where we’re sitting right now, for the times, it’s the best budget I’ve ever seen, put together by anybody,” he remarked. “It is historic, and it will go down in the records, over the next few years, as an historic budget, especially with all the problems that are out there.”
Meantime, Surrey Connect says that with the addition of this levy the tax increase on an average single family house will be 11.25 per cent and for an average townhouse, 14 per cent.
Hundial said these increases are designed to “shore up” funding for replacing the Surrey RCMP with the Surrey Police Service, “for which a final cost is yet to be determined and the majority of Surreyites still do not want.
“These are unprecedented times and there is only one taxpayer to support spending for all levels of government,” Hundial said.
Meantime, a group of “angry women taxpayers” delivered 200 parcel tacks to city hall on Monday afternoon, in a gesture of protest against the property parcel tax.
Organizer Annie Kaps noted in a press release that a resident living in a studio apartment with a murphy bed, and a small business owner, will under the levy pay the same $200 parcel tax increase as an owner of a “mega-house” with multiple families or a large business, like Costco on King George Boulevard.