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Calgary business tax shift plan to be debated

Business tax and budget cuts are on the table as Calgary councillors once again take a stab at mitigating massive tax increases for city small business.

On Monday, councillors will debate a notice of motion signed on to by 10 councillors,  that will see a combined $70.9 million pulled from the city’s fiscal stability reserve (FSR) and the budget savings account, another $60 million in budget savings for the 2019 tax year.

The combined, one-time, $130.9 million will be implemented in a phased tax program, similar to 2018, and credited to non-residential property tax accounts. According to the notice of motion, the amount will be the equivalent of a ten per cent reduction to in non-residential taxes for 2019 (excluding increases for property upgrades, expansion and before tax consolidation impacts.)

RELATED: Calgary business tax – Long term for complex city problem

In addition, the $60 million in permanent savings will be used in 2020 to reduce the non-residential tax and aid in the shift of the tax base to residential accounts, the motion states.

“While Council has tried to address this issue several times, we have not been able to reach a consensus,” Coun. Shane Keating wrote on his webpage, in a press release.

“Calls from the media and from the public have stated that Council needed a wakeup call, and that may be true.”

Budgets cuts will have impact: Keating

Keating also stated that making these cuts would have a visible impact on city services.

“To set expectations, cuts to the City’s budget will have an impact on services and programs. The City will endeavour to limit these impacts through efficiency gains, but these cuts will allow businesses to remain open, grow, and keep Calgary working,” the release stated.

On Friday, fellow councillor Jeff Davison offered a video apology, noting that it was a leadership issue from the top.

Keating also pointed out the province’s unwillingness to reduce the amount of property tax it takes from the city. That request was made in a prior push by city councillors to address the tax shift.

Almost immediately, the province rebuked suggestions that it would aid the city, instead saying that it should get its fiscal house in order.