This is the fifth in a series of profiles on Surrey city councillors elected on Oct. 15.
Pardeep Kooner, a Surrey Connect councillor elected with 25,118 votes, is a rookie politician with long-ranging aspirations.
Sworn in to a four-year term on city council on Nov. 7, she wants to focus on developing a 30-year-financial plan that will benefit Surrey residents over the long term.
The 39-year-old Newton resident owns her own audit and tax services business in Surrey, INLINE Accounting, holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Trinity Western University, and has been crunching numbers since age 18.
“I’m not sure why we’re only doing four year plans. Like, I understand why people are doing four-year plans because that’s the term of the council, right, but I think we need to be looking more forward,” Kooner says. “Oh, I’m all for spending money but I think it needs to be spent responsibly like we’re going to see benefits, long-term, from the money that we’re spending. I think we need to be more not frugal but I think when we decide to make purchases we should be looking at the impact 20 years from now.”
The new council, elected on Oct. 15, expects to tackle Surrey’s next budget in December.
“I definitely want to get in there and look at the detail,” Kooner says.
“I like the logic of accounting. Everybody thinks it’s like a math thing; it’s not math it’s all logic. I think I’m a pretty logical person. I’ve been doing this for so long it’s pretty much second nature for me now. I don’t consider myself even a politician now. People keep telling me I am one but I am an accountant that wants to make the city better and improve everyone’s life.”
She already has at least one major undertaking under her belt, having done a deep dive into Surrey’s policing transition, resulting in a Surrey Connect election campaign media release that claimed retaining the Surrey RCMP instead of incoming Surrey Police Service would save residents $520 million over the next four years.
Not doing so, the slate claimed, would result in heavy property tax increases over the next four years averaging an estimated $965 more per year for detached homes, $424 more for townhouses and $282 for apartments.
“It was three months of meeting people, three months of research and then about a week and a half of putting everything together and then another about two weeks of getting everything verified that I did, and a lot of private meetings. I even spoke with software developers across the country,” Kooner says of the project. “I talked to a lot of people, a lot of people not on the record.”
“I was mostly shocked at how much they decided they needed to hide,” she says. “I don’t think reduced services for more money is ever the way to go. Just from a practicality standpoint, if there’s something that’s not working right we should be figuring out what’s not working right instead of starting from scratch to end up with the exact same problem, for more money. It’s not very logical, in my opinion.”
Kooner said fellow rookie Surrey Connect councillor Rob Stutt – described on the City of Surrey’s website as a “career investigator with over 40 years’ experience in policing and the insurance industry” – also provided her with research he’s done over the past four years. “Definitely a collaboration,” she says.
Kooner says she’s undaunted by criticism of her findings. “There was a lot of commentary that was made, I think they had their six points about my inaccuracies, but I can dispute every single thing,” she says. “I have everything backed up.”
Kooner’s forecast for the next four years on council is she thinks people “are going to be pleasantly surprised at how well we are all going to work together.
I’m really looking forward to hearing everybody out and getting different viewpoints but I think we all have the same desire to make the city as best as we can.”