What I Tried to Do.
- I along with Cllr. Magliocca and Cllr. Farkas asked for a 5% cut to none essential services. This was a call to cut up to 5% across the board, with exemptions to Police, Fire, and Calgary Transit. Our Notice of Motion was asking for cuts that would result in $50 Million in savings. Council voted it down 12 – 3.
- Cllr. Magliocca and I proposed to take $50 Million from the OCIF fund, as we believe there has been little success with this fund, and that handing out money to business is corporate welfare, but also a fund like this invites question of impartiality with winners and losers. Council voted it down 10 – 5.
- Also pushed for a reduction in public engagement and communications budget by $1.2M, Council voted is down by 10 – 5.
- Finally, asked for a reduction in CADA funding by $5 Million, Council voted it down 10-5.
With the entire week of budget debate, and proposals from all sides, Council voted 8 – 7 to accept the Budget 2019. This means that our property taxes are going up. I have never voted for a tax increase and believe that asking administration with a $4 Billion dollar budget to find up to 5% in savings was not unreasonable. The idea that nothing more can be done is not acceptable. There can always be more savings found and there is still much more to do, and I will be bringing more NOM forward to help push this agenda in the new year.
Administration also only gave us one week to pour over $4 Billion in spending, this is not fair to Councillors nor fair to Calgarians who elected us to make tough choices and this is not enough time to review a budget of this size. This coming year, I also want the City to speed up their reviews of all programs, right now, it is 2-3 programs a year are reviewed, this should be sped up.
I know that many of you are not happy with the tax increase, neither am I that is why I voted against this budget. I have always fought to defend your wallets, and will continue to do so.
What Council Voted On:
Last week Council, Council approved the 2020 Adjustments to the One Calgary Service Plans and Budgets. There are three parts to it.
Decision 1: 2020 Budget and Service Levels
Council set the tax rate increase for 2020 at 0%. They approved the 1.5% scenario proposed by Administration, and then directed one-time money to bring the rate increase down to 0%. This decision preserves the Calgary Police Services and Civic Partners budgets. Council asked administration with finding the one-time dollars permanently in our base budgets for 2021 and 2022.”
Decision 2: Tax Share
Council made a fundamental change to the way taxes are shared between residential (i.e. homeowners) and non-residential (i.e. businesses, commercial and industrial) taxpayers from 49:51 per cent to 52:48 percent residential to non-residential. This decision eases the pressure put on businesses and building owners from the loss of value in the downtown core.
Decision 3: Provincial Off-Loading
The Provincial budget reduced funding to The City by $13M, largely to Calgary Police Services. Council approved a flow through to Calgary taxpayers to cover this shortfall.
Because of these decisions, the typical single residential home will see a total increase to their property taxes of $12.50 per month. The off-loading means $1.14 per month as a result of provincial off-loading and $11.36 per month due to the shift in the tax share. The City will have to develop a plan to achieve further budget reductions of $24 million in 2021 and $50 million in 2022. There will be staff reductions because of these cuts.
It is important to keep in mind about City budgeting:
- The City is the bill collector, and 40% of your property taxes goes to the Province.
- The City cannot run a deficit, for good reason. If municipalities were allowed to take on debt, our fiscal health as a province would be unstainable.
- That is why I oppose taxation power for municipalities, if this is allowed then each town or city would have their own tax rate, creating fiefdoms, and instead of us working together on a bigger picture of growth plans, would be stealing jobs and capital from each other.
Council chose to lessen the impact on businesses, by changing the rate business/residential pays to 52/48.
- Business have taken the hardest hit due to the tax shift over the past few years, and another large hit would be the end of many of them. That is why Council agreed to shift more too residential.
- This Budget was an 8-7 split; I voted against it the budget as presented.