Calgary Minute: Tax Increases, No Accountability, and the City Budget
Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics.
This Week In Calgary:
On Monday there is a Strategic Meeting of Council but there are only two items on the agenda. First, a verbal update from the new City Manager, David Duckworth, entitled "Moving Forward, My Vision As City Manager" and second, another verbal update entitled "Calgary Comeback". City officials have been confidently predicting an economic comeback for years, all while proposing policies that will make any comeback more difficult, so we're interested to see what they're proposing today.
On Tuesday there will be a Priorities and Finance Committee meeting which will primarily receive a series of reports on the City's financial health, and administration's efforts to find budget savings. Perhaps the most interestingly, the City estimates that the total taxable assessment (ie: value) of residential properties will go down by 4% on average next year. Don't expect a tax cut though - Council automatically adjust tax rates to ensure they get their share regardless of property values.
- On Wednesday there is both an SPC on Community and Protective Services meeting and an Emergency Management Committee meeting. Community and Protective Services will discuss removing the need for Office Buildings (though not businesses within those buildings) and Christmas Tree Vendors to get a business license. Business License fees would also be cut by 10%.
Last Week In Calgary:
- Council voted to raise business taxes by creating two new Business Improvement Areas and expanding another, but delayed a decision on the creation of a third BIA in the Beltline. Business Improvement Areas are basically a union for businesses that can force other businesses to join them and pay them an extra tax/fee. Unbelievably, it only takes the signatures of 25% of businesses in an area to create a BIA but 50% to prevent it! Council delayed the decision on creating a new Beltline BIA because of irregularities with the collection of the signatures. Businesses listed in support claim they never signed, while some seem to have signed up to 37 times in an attempt to meet the required threshold. Video of the full debate at council is available on Facebook here.
- Council also voted down Councillor Farkas' proposal to expand financial accountability and transparency by automatically publishing a record of every City expenditure over $10,000. The proposal lost on a 6-6 tie - the vote record of each councillor is available here.
- Finally, it's almost City Budget time again, and Councillor Farkas' is calling for a freeze on tax hikes for 2020. Actually, what he'd really like is a freeze in total City spending which would mean a property tax cut! Are there 7 other Calgary Councillors who'll vote with him to deliver one?
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