Calgary Minute: Arena Deal, Commonwealth Games, and Budget Changes
Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics
This Week In Calgary:
On Tuesday morning there will be a Priorities and Finance Committee meeting. The Committee will be reviewing further business tax relief options for 2020 (see below), which is hilarious given that the other main item on the agenda is tax increases for Business Improvement Areas. This is a prime example of Council's hypocrisy - feeding with one hand while taking with the other hand. You can read our recent report on Business Improvement Area here.
- Wednesday's planned Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services meeting has been cancelled. The next regularly scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.
- Curiously, Council's 2020 Calendar includes a planned Audit Committee meeting on Friday, however, the meeting is not listed on the City's Council and Committee Agendas page nor has any notice of cancellation been posted as would usually happen if the meeting wasn't going ahead. Maybe it's just an administrative mix-up, but we'll keep an eye on this and let you know if we discover anything.
Last Week In Calgary:
- The City finally released more details on the $550 million Arena deal, now that backing out is no longer an option. Amongst other things, the City will pay for any major structural repairs, all additional insurance costs due to the facility being in a flood zone, and 90% of the Saddledome's demolition - to ensure there's no competition for the new Arena.
- It was also revealed last week that Mayor Nenshi has been meeting with a group of "private citizens" about bringing the 2026 Commonwealth Games to Calgary, reusing the research from the City's incomplete 2026 Winter Olympic bid, despite this being a Summer event. We really doubt 171,750 voters were thinking "I'm a No for the Olympics, but I'd switch to a yes for a less prominent, but equally costly event!"
- Council did such a stellar job revising their budget 6 weeks ago, that they've decided to do it all over again! The City now plans to put a 10% cap on business property tax hikes for 2020, paid for by another one-time $30 million from reserves. Getting business tax hikes under control is essential but it should have been done in November, not as a last-minute change without any transparency or accountability. At this point, the only thing that is clear is that Council has completely lost control of the budget and now they're just making it up as they go along.
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