City Council will have a difficult task on its hands this week as we begin deliberations on the four-year budget cycle for 2019-2022. Downtown vacancies have resulted in buildings to continue losing their property values and increase the tax burden on non-residential property taxes outside of the core. Despite this, Calgary continues to grow and new communities require service, something that many of you in Ward 12 are keenly familiar with. With the increasing service area, costs to provide essential services like water, roads, and our exceptional and brave police and fire departments continue to grow.
As a council, we have worked hard with City Administration to provide direction on the budget to look for efficiencies, reduce spending where possible, decrease capital spending and to really get the service owners to differentiate from a need and a want. I know that Administration has taken this to heart and prepared a lean budget. Throughout the budget, you will see sections titled “What we propose to do less of” – a first for the city budget. There is a common theme throughout the city services stating there will be reduced capital spending budgets.
That being said, the budget proposes tax increases. I know this is not what you want to hear. I know that many are still struggling due to the current economic climate. I also know that many of you have been told, and are likely tired of being told, that Calgary still experiences a much lower tax rate compare to other municipalities. But I think it remains an important point and I’m going to repeat it.
Residential property taxes in Calgary per $1,000 of assessment remain tied for the second lowest in the country and are significantly below both our neighbours to the north and the national average:
Total property taxes for a two-storey house have remained among the lowest in the country:
Utility rates and service charges also remain among the lowest in the country:
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the tax increase and what it actually means for you and your family. City Administration estimated that the changes in property taxes, utility rates and waste and recycling fees will result in an increase of $9.48 per month for a typical Calgary household, or $113.76 for the year. This will be followed with an increase of $4.73 in 2020, $4.61 in 2021 and $4.95 in 2022. So by 2022, the average monthly cost for property taxes, utilities and waste and recycling will be $23.77 higher than it is today. With these increases, costs for utilities and other services will still remain lower than Toronto (keeping Calgary the fifth lowest municipality on the above list, granted power prices remain comparable) and the cost of property taxes will remain among the lowest in the country for a typical two-storey home.
With all that being said, my staff and I have been pouring over the budget looking for potential savings. I will continue to fight to ensure that Ward 12 residents are getting the best value for their tax dollars and will be asking Administration if budget items can be further reduced to reduce the impact on citizens while maintaining the service levels we currently enjoy. Ward 12 continues to grow at a rapid rate and with that, the growing pains continue. I will continue pushing for improved transit access for Ward 12 while we wait on the construction of the Green Line. In the meantime, we finally have some recreation facilities built in Ward 12 for us all to enjoy, with numerous programs that are accessible and affordable.
You can find more information on property taxes here.
You can see a copy of the proposed budget here.
If you have any questions regarding the budget, my office is always happy to chat.