In 2013 Council made an initial dedication of funding to the Green Line with $52M annually for 10 years. When I ran in 2013 the question of what to do with this $52M in property tax space was front and centre in the campaign.
Here was my position:
If the $52M was simply going to be absorbed into general revenues by the City of Calgary, I would have preferred that we give it back to Calgarians. If these funds had gone into general revenues there would not have been any direction from Council on how the City of Calgary would apply those funds. There would have been no transparency for Calgarians on where their tax dollars went.
The question of giving it back or keeping it came to Council in July of 2013. I voted to give it back as it was going to general revenue.
Regardless of how the first vote went, I did not want to see these funds go into general revenue. Council needed to find a better mechanism. The criteria for my support on keeping the $52M had four key points:
- An area of desperate need for Calgarians would need to be identified.
- Council would need to discuss how to address this need.
- Council would need to vote on keeping the funds.
- The funds would need to be dedicated to a specific project.
After the vote, I was able to apply an amendment to the Motion of keeping the funding. My amendment satisfied the four sets of criteria that I outlined above. By outlining a specific use for the funds, Council could ensure that these funds made a real difference for Calgarians. My amendment saw Council dedicate $52M over 10 years to the Green Line. Without this amendment, it is likely these funds would have disappeared into general revenues. The first vote on the $52M, which I voted no on, already decided that Calgarians were not getting the money back. My amendment made sure that if Calgarians were not getting their money back, The City of Calgary would make the best possible use of tax payer dollars.
Giving the funds back to Calgarians would have seen each house hold receive a tax break of approximately $100 per year. The annually commitment of $52M of funding that is collected from throughout Calgary is being applied directly to the most important transportation project Calgary has ever taken on.
Fast forward to today. Council has a decision to complete the Green Line funding commitment. This is a project that we can’t afford to partially support; we need to be all in with our commitment. $52M/10 was the right decision in 2013 and $52M/30 is the right decision now.