In March, the Provincial Government informed Council that it would not be collecting the full amount of property taxes from Calgarians, effectively creating tax room in the amount of $42 million per year.
I gave very careful thought on how best to proceed with my vote and though I am very respectful on the issue of increasing the tax commitment that Calgarians pay each year, I am also respectful of finding a balance of the type of services that the city provides versus the type of service that Calgarians demand.
The Provincial Government did what the city has been asking for; leave more money for the city to use for community infrastructure and across the CPRIIPS and ERIIPS lists.
Council had several options on how to use the funds including; rejecting the offer from the government, return the funds to Calgarians, or use the funds as they were originally intended to be used by the Provincial Government, and reinvest the $42 million per year into various infrastructure projects that Calgarians have been demanding.
By a vote of 11-3, Council moved to use those funds and reinvest them back into the community. What amounts to $6.00 per month for each property owner ($72 per year), will now do what the money was intended for; to build infrastructure in Calgary.
As a direct result of Council’s decision, Ward 12 may soon be home to two full service recreation facilities; a $120 million recreation centre built in Seton and a $70 million recreation centre built in Quarry Park. There may also be a $50 million recreation center built in Great Plains and a $120 million recreation centre built in the Northwest.
The direction by Council will also fund lifecycle maintenance, renewal and construction of community infrastructure such as fire halls, parks, community facilities.
The only way that these centers could otherwise be built is through direct multi-million dollar private funding, provincial and municipal taxes or a combination of both.
The decision by council will also contribute to improved library services in Calgary and a host of other benefits that would otherwise not be funded.
“The $42 million that Calgary will benefit from each year as a result of the tax room provided by the Provincial Government, will play a large role in building the infrastructure that Calgary is demanding and build recreation centers that I pledged to bring to Ward 12.
Calgarians will still pay no higher of a tax rate tomorrow as they would have last week, though we will see a much greater value for our dollar than we would have yesterday