First, I just want to state that we have a spending problem not a revenue problem and that is why I have voted against tax increases every single time, and have called for cuts across the board with some of my Council colleagues.
Calgarians are receiving your property tax bills in the mail. The City sent out your assessment a few months ago for review. City Council has moved the deadline for those that cannot pay by June 30 to September 30 without interest or penalty. If you need help, email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org – this deadline does not apply to those who are on the TIPP program where you pay your property taxes monthly. I strongly encourage everyone to go on this program as it makes budgeting easier. The City has waived the filing fee to join TIPP until January 1, 2021. The 2020 increase is $240.00/$0.66 a day. The City takes 63% and Edmonton take 37% of the revenue from all taxes collected.
The City, as with every municipality in Alberta are governed by Legislation under the Municipal Governance Act, and we must balance our budget every year. We cannot incur debt. With the gutting of the downtown core due to the fall of energy prices, it shifted the City’s need to incur revenue on the remaining businesses and residences to make up for that loss. Only compounding the hardships on small businesses year after year.
The City is the collector, the Province takes their cut and leaves, and what is left is what the City needs to pay for all the services we use. With COVID-19 the City is losing $10-$15 million a week in revenue. This means tough choices are going to be made, and unless we have an injection of funds from Edmonton or Ottawa. The only way forward is to stop wasteful spending and service adjustments. The City has a rainy day fund, and we have been using it to lessen the blow each year, but as with every savings account, it is running low after years of withdrawals. Tough choices are going to be made on all three levels of government on what is the priority and what will have to be cut back. The chicken has come home to roost.
I understand the anger out there; I get it at the doors, and on the phones, and I read the Facebook comments and like many of you am angry too. I hear the heartbreaking stories, on the loss of work, or a partner losing their job, and the tough choices that are being made to get by. Years of sluggish economic growth, to a collapse in oil prices and now COVID-19 in a matter of months are making bad times even worse. Sending out property taxes at this time are salt in the wound for many. That is why I have voted against tax increases every single time, and have called for cuts across the board with some of my Council colleagues, but our attempts are not successful. The City needs to cut spending further, as I have said many times we have a spending problem not a revenue problem.
My office and I are already helping residents who need support, or how to navigate the process. There is help if you need it. There is support for those in financial hardship, and seniors. You can email my office at email@example.com or there is Calgary.ca/propertytax or 311/403-268-2489.
If you want to chat with, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and send me your number.