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Proposed Calgary budget additions could bump up tax rate 3 per cent, if approved

Additional Calgary budget requests total $150 million, with one-third of the proposed cost of these items being footed by citizens.

Calgary will begin discussion on the 2022 budget adjustment Monday. The current proposed budget shows a tax rate increase of between .64 and .99 per cent. The latter amount would be the case if a $6 million Calgary police budget increase is approved.  

Of the new $150 million, roughly one-third would require additional tax support to fund.

That would add 3.07 per cent to the tax rate increase if all are approved, according to the city. It would push the total increase to between 3.7 and 4.06 per cent. It equates to roughly $5 per month for a typical Calgary single-family detached homeowner.

Slightly more than a third of the remaining request would come from fiscal reserves or the budget savings account, according to public documents posted online. The remaining amount is for capital projects.

Additional budget requests, forwarded to council Nov. 16. CITY OF CALGARY FULL DOCUMENT BELOW

The asks outlined in the documents cover 11 different sections, with 22 specific requests. It includes cash for affordable housing, climate work, arts and culture, public safety on Calgary Transit, traffic safety improvements, snow and ice control, and a Calgary Zoo capital request.

Previously, some councillors suggested that the current proposed tax increase was fair, but there wasn’t any appetite to take on more.

“And I think as long as you don’t add a whole bunch of more things to it, we should be fine,” Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said Nov. 8, when the original budget adjustment was first presented.

Several questions came from councillors during that presentation around affordable housing, funding the downtown strategy, and climate funding. The city declared a climate emergency earlier this week.  

Work ahead for council

Councillors will now take the original budget adjustment package, plus this one, and parse things out next week.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said she’s disappointed to see these additional requests come up. Sharp said it’s particularly frustrating when the last council asked administration to come to budget adjustments with no increase. It came back at one per cent.

“Some of these are great things that the city does need,” she said.  

“Is this the right time for us to be spending this money? Is the money better off in consumers’ pockets?”

Sharp said next week will be about determining the priorities of Calgarians and setting up for the 2023 to 2026 budget cycle.  

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said these recent asks originated from council conversations and what city admin captured during the budget presentation.

“No one’s kidding themselves – there’s not a lot of will for a tax increase. We know that,” Penner said.

“What we do also know is that some of these asks have come from us as councillors saying, these are the things that we also heard on the campaign trail that are really important to Calgarians.”

She said it’s unlikely everything gets approved – some departments have made multiple requests. Penner also said there are situations, like with affordable housing, that could capture matching funds from other orders of government.

“We need to understand what the implications are. If we do increase the tax rate, what the implications are for different individuals,” she said.

The new budget proposals include the hiring of 141.5 full-time equivalent positions at the City of Calgary.

Council requested budget ad… by Darren Krause

Public submissions on this and the other budget adjustments can be made by visiting the City of Calgary’s website.