“Calgary May Implement an 8% Property Tax Increase Next Year”
Next week, the Calgary city council is set to debate adjustments to its four-year budget, with a list of proposals that could drastically increase property taxes by nearly eight per cent next year. This potential bump to monthly tax bills has left some Calgarians questioning previous claims by city officials. They’re disheartened by the agreement to build a new event centre because of the potential property tax impact.
Public Outcry and Skepticism
Peter Oliver with Project Calgary raised concerns about the decision to commit millions in public funds for a for-profit sports team. He mentioned that the same officials then claimed budget shortages for everyday citizens. He argued, “There’s nothing fiscally responsible about corporate welfare.”
The finalized agreements to build the new event centre and Culture +Entertainment District set the city to pay $537 million up front with substantial annual lease payments for the project with CSEC. Despite city officials previously maintaining that property taxes wouldn’t be impacted, Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp still believes this to be the case, entering budget talks next week, even with the proposed 7.8% tax increase.
City’s Side of the Story
City administration claimed that the funding for the event centre was appropriated in the previous budget cycle, and the city funding is being sourced from “reserve and working capital accounts.” They further maintained that none of the current sources identified for the event centre project would result in an increase in municipal taxes or new debt to the city.
Economists’ Take on the Issue
University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe doesn’t quite see it that way. He called the city’s claim that the event centre won’t impact taxes “misleading.” Tombe argued that the city’s choice to allocate public funds towards one project means that it’s skipping the opportunity to use it towards others. In other words, the choice impacts the taxpayer directly.
Final Thoughts and Call to Action
The debate surrounding the potential tax increase is ongoing, with city councillors set to begin budget discussions next week. The implications of the decisions made in these discussions are vast, leaving many wary of the potential impact of perceived fiscal irresponsibility and questioning funding allocation.
Can a Privately-funded Initiative Fill the Gap?
As the discussions continue, this leaves us contemplating the essential metrics of civic investment and the role of private involvement in public projects. This is an opportunity for citizens to engage actively in local governance, understand the financial impact of initiatives, and hold decision-makers accountable. The decisions made now are truly critical for the years to follow, urging individuals and officials alike to prioritize investing in the everyday needs of the public, understanding that these investments are the arteries of civic growth.
With the decisions set to take place soon, every voice and perspective must be heard in the public hearing on Monday at city hall. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to have a say in where city councillors allocate funding. We encourage everyone to get involved and make their voices heard. After all, municipal governance is not a one-way street but a collective effort that thrives on public engagement.