MEDIA RELEASE - Ask for New Tax Powers “Out of Touch”

December 14, 2016

See Charter Think Tax Coalition Calls Alberta Mayors’ Ask for New Tax Powers “Out of Touch”

CALGARY, AB: The See Charter, Think Tax coalition is calling for a reality check for the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton after they signed a letter asking for more tax powers on Tuesday.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson joined the mayors of Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver to ask their premiers for new tax powers. Reportedly, the mayors said they need to ask permission to “do the right thing” for residents. 

“Alberta’s big city mayors suggesting that raising taxes would be ‘doing the right thing’ shows they’re remarkably out of touch with the struggles Albertans are facing,” said Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta Director Paige MacPherson. “If Mayors Nenshi and Iveson want new tax powers, Premier Notley should require citywide referendums, as past premiers have.”

On the same day the mayors asked for new tax powers, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released a report showing the City of Edmonton spends 2.18 times what is sustainable and the City of Calgary exceeds a reasonable level by 2.35 times.

Real operating spending increased by 66 per cent in Calgary over a 10-year period, while population growth only increased by 28 per cent. In Edmonton, real operating spending increased by 70 per cent while population growth increased by 32 per cent over the decade.

“Alberta’s big-city mayors have an insatiable desire for more cash,” said CFIB Alberta Director Amber Ruddy. “Yet Calgary and Edmonton are spending more than double what’s sustainable. Alberta businesses are controlling their spending. The cities can too.”

The See Charter Think Tax coalition commended Calgary city council for its temporary residential tax freeze for 2017, and issued several ideas for long-term tax relief.

But on Tuesday, Mayor Nenshi admitted suburban businesses will see “kind of shocking tax increases.”

“What’s shocking is that the mayor would permit a massive tax hike when the unemployment rate is above 10 per cent and city spending is through the roof,” said MacPherson.

Edmonton city council is celebrating a 3.1% property tax hike on residents for being “lower than expected.” The coalition applauds Edmonton’s move to eliminate vacant positions and freeze management wages for 2017, but more must be done.

“On city charters, so far the cities have hosted dog and pony show information sessions,” said Common Sense Calgary Executive Director Kathy Macdonald."Common sense needs to be injected into the process to ensure citizens understand how the City Charters are going to affect them. Give residents the binding say they deserve on new city tax powers through referendums.”

The Alberta government has said draft city charters will be posted online in spring 2017 and will be approved 60 days later.

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See Charter Think Tax is an Alberta-based coalition launched to demand taxpayers and small businesses have their say in any new city tax powers. The coalition is comprised of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Common Sense Calgary.

For more information:

CFIB Alberta Director Amber Ruddy
1 866-444-9290 or via email at [email protected]

CTF Alberta Director Paige MacPherson
403-478-7184 or via email at [email protected]

Common Sense Calgary Executive Director Kathy Macdonald
587-896-2801 or via email at [email protected]

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