Karla Charest

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]:

a) Reduce in absolute terms


Question 1.2:

Comments?

 

Answer/Comments 1.2:

I absolutely do not support any increase in taxes over the next four years. 

Calgarians have seen a cumulative YOY increase greater than 50% over the past seven years.  Inflation over the same period was approximately 11%.

Uncontrolled city spending and an escalating city hall wage bill that was not even covered by property taxes collected in 2016 is not sustainable.  Now, we have heard that 2018’s revenue shortfall is expected to be in the range of $170 million even though the City claims to have ‘found’ $325 million in savings that hasn’t translate into savings for the taxpayers.  This, combined with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce study that identified had the city followed a tax model that was based on inflation plus population growth it should be charging $750 million a year less in taxes today, speaks to the excessive spending waste this city council has been involved in since the start of the “Nenshi years”.

In today’s economic environment, the City of Calgary has no choice but to re-examine spending practices that are “nice to have” versus “need to have” and concentrate on delivery of essential core services rather than spending money on things the average Calgarian cannot afford.


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:

There is no requirement to sink public money into a new arena. The private sector has investor dollars looking for a home. Seattle just signed such a deal a few weeks ago. The Seattle deal provides a generous revenue share program and the city of Seattle retains ownership of the arena. Zero tax dollars! There is a value proposition here; we just have to want to find it.


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:

Between 2013-17, Toronto city council went “in camera” 18 times and Calgary city council went “in camera” 728 times. Yet over the course of this election, when referencing the 2017 election candidates’ campaign donor lists, Mayor Nenshi stated: “I think it’s incredibly important that we have real openness”. Just a little misalignment of principles, don’t you think?

Toronto is a bigger city with a bigger budget than Calgary. It deals with more issues than Calgary. So why re-invent the wheel? As a start, why don’t we adopt their model of “in camera”? They don’t seem to get into trouble.


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:

The policy that is currently in place is out of touch with the challenges this city currently faces. There has to be flexibility and rational thought applied in extreme and extenuating circumstances such as the ones out city is experiencing today. Until expenditures of this nature can be justified, spending has to be stopped. City Council also has to address the entire public funding model as it relates to arts; the lack of clarity for an application of public funding creates confusion, animosity and inequality.


Question 5:

How can council support small businesses?

 

Answer 5:

They can start by not burdening existing remaining businesses with the tax increases that are based on lost revenues due to the downturn in the economy in Calgary. Beyond that, they have to be more flexible with application and approval processes that stifle (if not kill) entrepreneurship and new businesses.


Question 6.1:

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

 

Answer 6.1 [Yes/No Only]:

No


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:

I do not support it in its current approved format and I would certainly never support any further increase in cost or any further delays. This project has been managed horribly and it continues to evolve as the largest and most useless capital spending program the city council has ever committed to in the history of the city.


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]:

Yes.


Question 7.2:

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

 

Answer/Comment 7.2:

The public will be the ones that will be exposed to the inconvenience of construction of new facilities and the use of the city for an event that is becoming a larger and larger target for terrorism every time it is held. While I support a public vote I do not support the allocation of any public funding for the bid. However, if the public want to include that as an option that is available to them, then by all means…let the people speak and let the people have their voice in that particular matter.