Surrey Councillor Allison Patton is getting some blowback for comments she made on a radio talk show on Tuesday that Surrey residents have been complaining that their taxes are too low.
The Safe Surrey Coalition civic politician told CKNW’s The Lynda Steele Show some residents are saying, “We want to pay more.”
“It’s interesting for such a large city as we are, taxes are so minuscule. I’m talking in comparison,” Patton told the host.
“This may sound juvenile, but I’m excited to pay my taxes.”
Patton has not yet responded to a request for comment on roughly how many Surrey residents have told her they want to pay more tax, and in what context.
Asked for his reaction, Councillor Doug Elford, also of the Safe Surrey Coalition, had this to say.
“I’m not going to be commenting on stuff like that, I guess it’s a matter of interpretation,” Elford told the Now-Leader. “Nobody likes paying more taxes; I don’t know anybody that prefers to pay more taxes. Certainly I’m not going to jump into that conversation at this point in time.”
Councillor Jack Hundial, who was once with the SSC until he and Councillor Brenda Locke split with that slate to form Surrey Connect, also weighed in.
Asked how many Surrey residents have told him they want to pay more taxes, he replied, “Only one Surrey resident has said that to me, and that was Allison Patton, which I heard yesterday. On the radio.
“That would be a far reach from what I’ve heard from anyone, whether it’s a resident or even from the business community,” he told the Now-Leader. “In fact, I hear more from the business community saying how they need tax relief.”
“I’ve not received one single email or communication, or one-on-one contact, from anyone who’s stated that they want to be paying more taxes in Surrey,” Hundial said.
Locke called Patton’s comments “an interesting revelation.”
She said Surrey residents have not been telling her their taxes are too low.
“I’m not hearing that people want to put more money into the Surrey Police Department at all. Just quite the opposite, and COVID has not made life any easier for anyone. I think the taxpayer is already being taxed enough – we saw everyone’s taxes went up significantly in this last round, and so I think the taxpayer is pretty exhausted.”
Safe Surrey Coalition Councillor Laurie Guerra replied by text message Wednesday that because she hadn’t heard Patton’s radio interview, “it wouldn’t be fair to me to comment without knowing context.” Asked if Surrey residents have told her, personally, that they want to pay more taxes, she replied, “No. I can’t say that I have.”
Later in the day, Guerra suggested Patton might have been referring to a few emails council received “prior and pertaining to last year’s budget meeting.
“A few residents said they wouldn’t mind paying more taxes if a specific project were built,” Guerra said. “However, without having a specific ‘ask’ I’ve never had a resident say to me they want to pay more taxes.”
Councillor Linda Annis, of Surrey First, said Surrey residents aren’t telling her they want to pay more tax.
“I generally hear the opposite,” she said. “They’re paying way too much tax, not just from the city but from government in general. I think people need to be prepared to be comfortable to pay more tax if we’re getting the Surrey Police Department, because they’ve got to pay that from somewhere. It’s either taxes or it’s we sell off land, and neither are a very good thing for the residents.”
The Now-Leader also reached out to councillors Mandeep Nagra, Steven Pettigrew, and Mayor Doug McCallum for comment.