Calgary city councillors opted to keep the status quo on tax distribution, with no additional responsibility placed on city residential properties.
Councillors debated a potential shift from the current 52 per cent residential and 48 per cent non-residential during Tuesday’s regular meeting of council. This was a decision left over from the 2023-2026 four-year budget debate in November.
Admin had proposed three primary options: Status quo, 53 per cent residential (47 non), or 54 residential (46 non.) The first option was proposed and ultimately carried 8-7.
Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp put forth the plan to keep things the same, and she admitted it wasn’t a perfect outcome. She said it’s the outcome needed today.
“It can and it will hopefully, eventually change – but today isn’t the right time for change,” Sharp said in her close on the motion.
“You all see the same things at the grocery store, on your bills, on your rent or mortgages or childcare as I do… The cost of everything is going up and that includes property taxes, which we have already increased in November. In this environment, the only sensible move is to maintain the status quo.”
Prior to the debate, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce urged city council to rebalance the property tax responsibility.
“Rebalancing the property tax ratio will help ensure Calgary remains an attractive place to start and grow a business, and will facilitate economic stability and resilience,” said Deborah Yedlin, President and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
‘It’s time to be bold’: Mayor Gondek
Mayor Jyoti Gondek implored councillors to continue the shift of tax responsibility to the 531,000 residential properties rather than the 14,000 non-residential properties.
She said non-residential properties amount to 26 per cent of the assessed value in Calgary but carry 48 per cent of the property tax share. Fifty-two per cent of tax share falls on the residential properties, which account for 74 per cent of the assessed value, she said.
“It’s time to be bold,” the mayor said.
“It’s time to do the right thing for the business community in our city. And, unfortunately, we did not do that today.”
The mayor, during debate, said that the city has been talking about shifting the tax responsibility to homeowners since 2019. She said Calgary is the worst among Canada’s major cities in a proportional share of property tax.
“It is impossible to put out a mandate for economic development if we as governors do not make strong decisions right here,” she said.
After the vote, the Chamber of Commerce expressed its disappointment.
“As the voice of business, we are disheartened by City Council’s decision to maintain the non-residential to residential tax ratio at 52 to 48 and are concerned that the tax ratio is projected to further increase to 4.26 to 1 in 2023. We are working to ensure Calgary is competitive, entrepreneurial and ripe with opportunity, however this decision runs counter to our identity of being ‘open for business,'” said Yedlin.
The decision means that Calgary homeowners will not face an additional increase on their property tax bills, over and above the already mandated $10 per month approved for the typical single-family homeowner (value $555,000) approved with November’s budget.
Council can revisit the tax responsibility discussion annually. Part of that will be the result of an amendment from Coun. Andre Chabot to consider accounting for the difference in physical growth between res and non-residential (new growth or redevelopment) in future budgets.
Tax notices go out at the end of May. A decision on this had to be made before the end of March.