The last election in Surrey wasn’t very competitive. Surrey First won the mayor’s chair and every seat on council. But it might have been a lot closer if the voters knew what these politicians were planning for after the voting was done.
Linda Hepner was elected mayor by promising to continue Dianne Watts’ legacy and a platform of hiring more police (100 new officers), expanding transit and building more recreational infrastructure. What the platform didn’t mention was tax hikes.
But now the election is over and tax hikes are at the top of Surrey First’s agenda.
For the average home, combined taxes could go up by $162 a year. Equivalent to a 10% increase.
Of course, Surrey First will claim that this isn’t all “property taxes” because it includes a proposed $100 “cultural and recreational” levy. It’s a flat fee that will be charged equally on every home in Surrey. That means the rich pay the same as the poor, and people who never use cultural or recreational facilities pay the same as people who use them all the time.
In Surrey First’s election platform, Coun. Tom Gill is quoted as saying, “Our city finances are in terrific shape, and that makes a big difference when you want to build parks, rec centres, soccer fields and swimming pools.” Funny how the finances were “terrific” before election day, but now they need a big tax grab to pay for all those parks and rec centres.
In fact, last week Gill was quoted as describing the coming budget as “unique.” It sure is unique – it’s the first budget right after an election. That means the politicians are counting that the voters in Surrey will have forgotten about it by the time the next election rolls around in 2018.
For most people, surprises in December are limited to what sort of presents are wrapped under the Christmas trees, but Surrey First has dropped a different sort of surprise on Surrey’s taxpayers.
Surrey First has dominated city hall for the last nine years, but this sort of betrayal is how dynasties begin to fall.
It’s a cliché that politicians say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. But the reason it is a cliché is that it happens all too often. For some reason we fall for it every time. But if it happens too often, voters do remember and Surrey First could learn a valuable lesson in what happens when politicians take the voters for granted.