Calgarians could see their property taxes increase by more than three per cent annually in the next four-year budget or face potential cuts to municipal services as the city struggles to balance the books.

Last April, council approved a potential tax hike in 2019 that would amount to a $49 to $64 annual increase for the average homeowner; subsequent tax hikes of between 2.5 and three per cent between 2020 and 2022 were also approved.

But city administration said Wednesday it won’t be able to meet all the priorities identified by council for the next four years under the proposed tax rates.

“It actually means service cuts,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday.

“It means that we can’t invest in the things that we want to invest in and on the capital side, it means we can’t build the things that people are asking us to build.”

Among the things putting pressure on municipal budgets is a recent council decision to significantly increase spending on snow and ice clearing; Nenshi said a boost to snow clearing could require an additional increase to property taxes of up to two per cent annually.

Putting further pressure on municipal books is an estimated $4.5 billion in unfunded capital projects that come as the Alberta government has dialed back municipal grants and capital expenditures; the $4.5 billion figure did not include spending estimates related to hosting the 2026 Olympics.

Nenshi said council will have to make a decision in the fall whether to increase property taxes or cut services, but added that polls show Calgarians support increased spending in areas like transit and snow removal.

Last-minute addition to today’s public #yyccc agenda. Includes some interesting data on which services Calgarians want to see more investment vs. which services they want to see cut. (FYI 2,101 surveyed. 60% landline, 40% mobile) #yyc

— Meghan Potkins (@mpotkins) July 4, 2018

“In this particular case, because council has signalled that it actually wants to invest in these things, they’ve gotta figure out a way to pay for it,” he said.

Some councillors questioned what the city’s current fiscal outlook should mean for Calgary’s pursuit of a bid for the 2026 Olympics.

“It really pains a lot of people that I hear from that we’re still considering pursuing an Olympic bid,” said Coun. Jeromy Farkas.

“Focus on the need-to-haves and put a pause on the nice-to-haves until Calgarians’ ability to pay recovers with the …read more



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Council faces choice of tax hikes or service cuts in next budget

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