Alex Columbos

Survey Responses:


Question 1.1:

Do you think municipal taxes should:

a) Reduce in absolute terms
b) Reduce in real terms (grow, but slower than inflation)
c) Reduce in relative terms (grow, but slower than inflation plus population growth)
d) Stay the same (grow, but only in line with inflation plus population growth)
e) Increase a bit (grow in line with the city’s Municipal Price Index)
f) Increase more (grow faster than the city’s Municipal Price Index)

 

Answer 1.1 [Choose One]:

d) Stay the same (grow, but only in line with inflation plus population growth)


Question 1.2:

Comments?

 

Answer/Comments 1.2:

We have seen enough of tax increases. Property and business taxes must be reviewed to create incentives for small business so we can look to reduce taxes and/or develop unique programs that allow for more money in Calgarian’s pockets. I would love to reduce them in relative terms and we will see how we can prioritize doing so without labor cuts to do so but we must also be open to labor cuts through attrition and or reduced salaries.


Question 2.1:

Would you vote in favour of allocating any tax dollars or giving any subsidy towards a new stadium/arena?

 

Answer 2.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No.


Question 2.2:

If yes, how much and in what form would these taxes take (direct cash, land, subsidy, indirect, etc), and why do you support public dollars being directed towards a corporation?

 

Answer/Comments 2.2:

Given the City and the team should own the rink the City should only vend in the land if it has to strike a deal. This model will create a win-win deal that is privately financed and that rejuvenates the city by having a world class venue for hockey, arts, culture and public events. A structure could be developed to pay the city back for its vended land immediately or over time whether that is through yearly land payment, property taxes and/or a coupon on the land value that is mutually agreed upon after a third party land assessment/appraisal. Ideally the city needs to create a partnership environment for the deal to go ahead but it certainly should not put tax payers at risk or put taxpayer dollars to an arena. Ultimately this deal should be financed with no exposure to the Calgary taxpayer.


Question 3.1:

Recent research on Calgary’s City Council found that council spends nearly a quarter of its’ time meeting in private (in camera). Do you agree that this is too much time spent in private?

 

Answer 3.1 [Yes/No Only]:

Yes.


Question 3.2:

If so, what would you do to fix this? Which topics do you believe should be discussed behind closed doors and why?

 

Answer/Comments 3.2:

Issues affecting sensitive info like contract details or publically sensitive info (that if in public could compromise a valid project or make a project more expensive) should be in camera. Day to day internal business meetings prior to council meetings when the issue has been tabled should never be in camera and councillors should be prepared prior to the council meetings on their position which should be 100% public (minus sensitive information as described). That said, any vendor name being reviewed for a particular issue should be public during negotiation; and only public after an announced project per the confidentiality agreement and procurement arrangements – final contract terms of contracts over $500,000 should be shared 2 years afterward with final bid results so that Calgarians know that they always got a realistic deal (other parameters in addition to cost could also be shared).


Question 4.1:

From the $470,000 Blue Ring, to the $236,000 for a “Poop Palace”, and now another $500,000 for Bowfort Towers, council has consistently failed to engage with Calgarians about which public Art projects their tax dollars are spent on. Do you support continuing to use taxpayer dollars to fund art projects for the city?

 

Answer 4.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No. 


Question 4.2:

If yes, why do you think council and administration have repeatedly failed on this issue, and what guidelines should be used to ensure Calgarians are happy with the results in future?

 

Answer/Comments 4.2:

No, not in the current policy especially given we are sourcing artists from outside Calgary, Alberta and Canada. If a new policy is clear, not watering down quality and not burdensome cost wise to complete a review or to the tax payer after; and that after a full review is complete it appears we have a sound policy we should be supporting art; but in a way where the % and gross dollars spent correlates to the economic times.


Question 5:

How can council support small businesses?

 

Answer 5:

By creating incentives for existing and future business to strive and thrive, creating and fostering industry clusters for business ecosystems to develop. Cities that offer no business tax will steal our start ups and or eventually even take the good companies we have away. Furthermore by making this city more affordable via a transparent secondary suites process qualified workers can be attracted. Calgary must be open for business and the city must maintain a quality of life that is affordable for individuals, families and businesses.


Question 6.1:

Do you support the current plan for construction of the Green Line?

 

Answer 6.1 [Yes/No Only]:

Yes.


Question 6.2:

The construction of the Green Line was approved based on a cost-benefit analysis that assumed the project would be completed two years earlier than now projected, and at a lower construction cost for the entire line than is now estimated for half of the line. If the costs increase again or the project is further delayed, would you continue to support it, and why?

 

Answer/Comment 6.2:

This is a critical project for the city. It needs to move forward; however I never would have started or announced the project details to begin with without the funding or design being secured for 100% of its completion. To properly secure the funding we would also need to understand our costs and timelines; I’m unsure of the reasons to such disparity in the funding, timeline and cost details of this project. Our contractors and bids need to have guaranteed bid pricing versus increasing the budgets and passing it onto the taxpayer. Council needs to be better at planning long-term projects and ensuring they are executed on time, on budget and safely. Council also needs to get better at not evaluating for ever and work to make critical decisions in a timely manner.


Question 7.1:

In July, City Council voted against a motion to hold a referendum/plebiscite on whether Calgary should bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics bid. Do you support holding a referendum / plebiscite on whether Calgary should bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics bid?

 

Answer 7.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No.


Question 7.2:

Why do you support/oppose a public vote? Should the results of a vote should be binding?

 

Answer/Comment 7.2:

I would not put forth a committee if we had a referendum. Why would we pay $5 million if we were just going to do a public vote. If we are going to host the Olympics, which I’m in support of only if it can be done without adding negative impacts to do so ie if we host it is status quo to not doing so and ideally and most likely it should be better than not hosting. Council for this and other key project decisions needs to take a leadership position as to the merits; and publically take their position vs passing the buck to a committee or employee of the city.