$100 levy shocks 100-year-old

CLOVERDALE – A 100-year-old Surrey woman is shocked after receiving a tax bill that’s 43 per cent higher than last year’s.

It jumped from $154 to $268, mostly thanks to a new recreation levy the city implemented last year. A flat fee of $100 has now been tacked onto homeowners’ tax bills.

Elfreda Anderson has lived in her condominium for 22 years and has been a Surrey resident since 1946. She can’t recall the last time she stepped foot in a rec centre or took a program through the city, but she’s stuck paying the $100 regardless.

She said although she doesn’t mind contributing to the city’s amenities, she feels the tax is unfair.

“It doesn’t make sense that everyone pays the same – from a $140,000 condo to a million-dollar home,” said her daughter Donna Phillips. “I think if they’d made it 10 per cent of your taxes or something, it would have been fair.”

The Now told homeowners to expect tax increases late last year after the city’s plan meant the average tax bill would rise by $162 as the city grappled with paying for 100 new officers.

The additional Mounties will cost $3.9 million in 2015 with an annual impact of $14.5 million after that.

At the time, Coun. Tom Gill said the budget was difficult and costs associated with the officers was “excessively higher” than expected. The city was faced with a choice, Gill explained:

Balance the books by cutting back on capital projects, or add the new cultural tax and raise suite fees to cover the infrastructure projects the city had on the books.

On Tuesday, Gill said the city hasn’t experienced a surge in calls from residents about the tax increases.

“I was expecting there to be more correspondence,” he said. “I’m assuming that our community is being educated on us having the lowest residential taxes in the region.”

Anderson’s son Lyle Phillips said the family doesn’t mind paying into the culture and recreation levy, as

it’s for the benefit of everyone in Surrey, but believes it “should be done in a more equitable way.”

He hopes the city will rethink the flat tax. amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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