Calgary eyes steady property tax increases for next four years

One Calgary service budget presented to council Wednesday

Calgary is beginning its budget process today. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

Calgary’s City Manager Jeff Fielding says the city is tightening its belt, but tax increases are still on the horizon for Calgary homeowners.

The city launched its four-year budget process today with the release of its One Calgary plan.

Under the plan, administration is proposing a 3.45 per cent tax increase in 2019, and 3 per cent in each of the following three years.

That translates to annual property tax increases ranging from $58.20 to $64.80 per year, for each of the next four years. That calculation is based on the typical Calgary home valued at $480,000.

Those numbers are only what city administration are bringing to Council. It will now be up to councillors to review the finer points of the budget, and make some tough decisions on what services they might want to adjust.

Citizens will also have the chance to have their say via online engagement.

“This is a responsible budget,” said Fielding. ‘It reflects the economic status the city finds itself in. Our bottom line has been eroded over the last number of years. We have to change the way we’re working together because we can’t continue to do the work the way we’ve done it in the past.”

Administration is committing to find at least $40 million in efficiencies over the four-year cycle.

It is also looking to council for direction on some capital budget implications. Up to $119 million have been requested for ‘extras’ such as affordable housing, arts and culture, civic partners, and the pedestrian strategy. However, only $43 million is currently available for these items.

A large portion of the tax rate is to cover growth in new and actively developing communities. In 2019, the total proposed tax rate for growth costs is 2.15 per cent, or more than half of the overall 3.45 per cent proposed tax rate increase.

Administration is pitching investments in services such as affordable housing, police services, public transit, sidewalks, pathways and streets.

Budget reductions could be found in services such as appeals and tribunals, citizen engagement, human resources and IT support, and social programs.

Budget deliberations will take place the week of November 26, and the final approval of the property tax bylaw won’t happen until April of 2019.

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