Surrey, B.C. to hold public meeting on potential 17.5% property tax hike

Click to play video: 'Surrey taxpayers to have their say on proposed tax hike'
Surrey taxpayers to have their say on proposed tax hike
Starting Monday night, Surrey taxpayers will be able to voice their opinions on the surprising double-digit proposed tax hike, much of which is being blamed on the city's policing issues. As Grace Ke reports, residents and the business community say council needs to find other ways to lower the looming tax bill – Mar 5, 2023

A public meeting is being held on Monday to discuss Surrey’s budget and the potential 17.5 per cent property tax hike.

The proposed tax hike is a culmination of a few factors, according to the city, including the possible halt of the city’s police force transition, global inflation, and other civic services.

The potential double-digit increase in property tax has people within the city worried.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is very concerned about the City of Surrey’s proposed tax increase,” Anita Huberman said, Surrey Board of Trade’s CEO and president.

“We do not know and it’s not clear what businesses are going to be facing when they receive their property tax bill in July.”

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Huberman said she is worried about businesses within the city, as many have already had substantial property tax increases in previous years.

“Every industry classification is different — it depends upon how much land businesses own and how much land they have,” she said.

“Some of our manufacturers have already faced 150 per cent property tax increases in each of the past three years. It is unsustainable to do business (here).”

Huberman said she is not against the city increasing civic services to assist with public safety, but other revenue streams should be explored.

“Half of the proposed tax hike is related to public safety investments that have been left behind,” she told Global News.

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“Absolutely, we need to hire more police officers, fighters, and city staff to meet the needs for a growing city of an additional 1,200 to 1,400 people a month.

“But, it is always the business that bears the greatest burden of taxation. It is unclear what their bottom line costs are going to be this year.”

She wants the City of Surrey to heed the call from the trade board to allow cannabis retailers to operate within the city’s region.

Click to play video: 'Proposed 17.5% property tax raise in Surrey reignites battle over policing future'
Proposed 17.5% property tax raise in Surrey reignites battle over policing future

A Surrey resident, Jennifer Hill, said she’s seen “incredible improvements” in the city over the past few years with growing buildings and infrastructure, but she was shocked to hear about the proposed property tax increase.

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“I was floored. I see all these new buildings around me and I thought the city should be floating in money,” she said.

“I was in shock. I am a nurse and I work hard for every dollar and when I saw the 17 per cent increase — how does that happen?”

Previously, some Surrey city councillors have also voiced their concern with the numbers that will be discussed on Monday.

“I have been calling for somebody independent of any of the organizations to do an audit and give us the real numbers,” said Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis in February.

“Work with everybody. Let’s all agree with the numbers before we proceed,” she added.

The city is maintaining that even though keeping the RCMP in Surrey is cheaper than going ahead with the Surrey Police Service, the transition has created a shortfall of $116 million so far.

To make up for it, the budget proposes a 9.5 per cent general property tax increase for the next three years. That means the average single-family household can expect to pay $219 more next year.

Combined with the seven per cent property tax increase already proposed for inflation, city operations and hiring extra police officers, plus an extra one per cent roads and traffic levy — the average Surrey home could see a 17.5 per cent surge in property tax.

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A public meeting of the finance committee will be held March 6 at 2 p.m. to consider the 2023 Budget. The public can provide comment in person at the Finance Committee meeting or through written submissions. The deadline for written comments was noon on Friday, March 3.

Click to play video: 'Surrey proposes property tax hike to pay for police transition costs'
Surrey proposes property tax hike to pay for police transition costs

— With files from Global News’ Kamil Karamali

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