Calgarians are loud and clear: Lower taxes and cut wasteful spending. So when will council listen?
First published in the Calgary Sun.
For months now, Common Sense Calgary has been suggesting to city council to cool their jets on spending and taxation.
In September of last year, we urged the city to not exceed the statistical rate of inflation for Calgary in their property tax amount.
In November, we warned of the glitches of the capital budget.
We have stood on guard as part of the ‘See Charter, Think Tax’ coalition to ensure that no further taxes occur under a revised city charter without a referendum.
And finally, Calgarians have had the opportunity to be heard and they agree, they are tired of being taxed to death.
If council was trying to ignore us before, they certainly can’t ignore Calgarians. And Calgarians are mad. Almost 500 responses in the recent Action Plan Check-In included complaints of excessive taxation.
Calgarians are stating loud and clear that they aren’t looking for a bike path or another piece of art, they want council to lower taxes and get rid of waste.
Council has tried to suggest that Calgarians’ satisfaction with services justifies taxation levels that continue to rise.
That may have been true in the past but things have changed in this town over the last 18 months and Calgarians now expect council to do more with their money.
Calgarians will no longer accept the old threats of cuts to essential services if wages are cut and taxes are lowered.
Because the reality is that Calgarians are hurting.
The city can no longer act and speak like it is immune from market conditions or that it expects its citizens to suffer while they sail along with business as usual.
They must take concrete actions that communicate to Calgarians that they have gotten the message and are ready to act on it. So what will have to change?
The city will have to get serious about cutting spending.
Nice-to-have items must now be placed on the bottom of the list.
There can be no more lavish dollars placed towards ideological boondoggles.
There can be no more suggesting that satisfaction with city services is enough.
Council must get serious about looking for real savings.
They must make the effort to go through every line in the budget and they must look at the base budget.
No more excuses.
Council will have to lower taxes. Period.
There can’t be endless mulling while numerous other options to cutting taxes are explored.
There can’t be endless studies as to what can be cut and what can’t be cut.
There can’t be endless excuses as to why items can’t be cut.
There must be lower taxes.
Council will have to stop giving themselves, high-level administrators and city staff consistent wage increases. Council itself and the mayor received a pay raise back in January.
The city manager received a bonus of 8.5% and a pay increase of 3.2% in the fall, at a time where many other Calgarians were losing their jobs, and city bureaucrats received a raise of 3.5% percent this year.
All while the majority of Calgarians have taken pay cuts and lost their jobs.
It is simply unacceptable and council will have to fall in line to demonstrate its true compassion for the city.
The city is to be commended for reaching out to Calgarians but they must show that their efforts to engage were sincere.
Calgarians will no longer accept excuses when they expect action.
If council does not respect the wishes of Calgarians, they will have proven that their efforts to consult were not genuine and that they are truly not interested in what average Calgarians want.
They must show that they have listened.
Read the Original at the Calgary Sun