City charters in Calgary, Edmonton could impose new taxes, group says


From CBC

A coalition of taxation watchdog groups says proposed new charters for Calgary and Edmonton are just an attempt by those cities to get the power to levy new taxes.

See Charter, Think Tax is calling on Premier Rachel Notley and Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous to clarify where the new government stands on the charters, which were still on the negotiating table when the Tories were swept from power this spring.

The coalition includes members of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Common Sense Calgary (CSC). It held a news conference in front of Calgary City Hall Wednesday to get its message out. 

"Overspending on the day-to-day operations of cities must be addressed before big-city mayors demand even more from taxpayers," said CFIB Alberta Director Amber Ruddy in a release.

"We recognize cities face budgeting challenges but that is largely a function of poor planning, not a lack of revenue."

Last October, then premier Jim Prentice signed a framework agreement with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson on new charters for their cities.

Prentice said at the time the new arrangement would formally recognize the challenges the big cities face in terms of growing populations, economic growth and overdue infrastructure upgrades.

No new tax powers: Nenshi

The new charters will not give either city any new taxation powers, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said previously.

The concept of charters for Edmonton and Calgary was agreed to in principle in 2012.

The charters would give both Calgary and Edmonton more power in terms of bylaws regarding some areas that currently fall under provincial authority, creating for-profit corporations to deliver services and programs, and enhancing flexibility and authority around local social policies.

"Taxpayers deserve to have their say in a citywide referendum if any new taxes are being considered," CTF Alberta director Paige MacPherson said in a release.

"Call them tools, levies, powers, charters — these are historic new city taxes Albertans have never seen before. The provincial government should demand the consent of the people."

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