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Ward 4 News: 2015-18 Business Plan and Budget Review

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Ward 4 official website

Let me begin by stating that I am not going to insult your intelligence. If you are reading this then you already know how you will be affected by the city’s 2015-18 Business Plan and Budget Review. I am also going to refrain from saying things like “due to the 2013 flood, or the 2014 snowstorm, this budget review process has changed significantly”. Let’s face it, regardless of whether those events took place, or not, an annual 4.7% increase in taxes was going to happen. Instead of hiding behind rhetoric I would rather begin from a point of straight talk.

This budget review process asks Calgarians to pay 4.7% more, per year, for the next 4 years. This is a similar ask to the one presented to Calgarians in the last budget review, and I am fairly certain will be similar to the ask that will be presented to Calgarians in the next review process. It seems like somewhere along the line a tax increase has simply become the default setting. In my opinion this needs to change.
After visiting over 15,000 doors during my campaign and an additional 3,000 doors since being elected, I feel confident in saying Ward 4 residents are worried about these proposed increases. In fact, the vast majority of my residents are asking me to be a true fiscal conservative on council. They want me to help stem the spending tide and to hold council accountable. They want me to ask administration to find efficiency within our processes and to start spending our funds on necessities instead of niceties.
I do realize the argument for increasing taxes is to ensure we can maintain certain levels of services. However, until we stop spending money on “signature” projects like bridges, bike lanes, oddly placed art, and a palace of a library, this argument holds little weight. Instead, what should be discussed is the fact that most citizens’ incomes do not go up by 4.7% yearly and are continually finding it harder and harder to afford to live in this city.
This overlooked concern is so important to me that earlier this year I brought forward a Notice of Motion to council asking administration to produce a study on the effects of rate and tax increases on vulnerable peoples such as low income seniors, seniors, small businesses, single income earners, fixed wage earners, minimum wage earners, etc. Unfortunately, even though administration assured us that this project could be done in house at no additional cost, the motion did not pass. I still wonder why this information was not desired in the budget review process.
So, here it is. I am voting NO to these proposed tax increases as a demonstration of my commitment to the needs of my resident’s and the understanding that most Calgarians cannot afford to build our city in the image of the “best elements” of Copenhagen, Portland, London, or whichever city is the flavour of the month this month. Instead, I do support aligning our rate increases to something more objective like the inflation rate or the Municipal Price Index (MPI).
I fully realise that I am in the minority on city council with this type of thinking. However, I am fine with that. In fact, I am proud of it. I campaigned on holding council accountable for its spending strategies and I will not flip flop on this issue. I am not in favour of any tax increase over the MPI rate and I am certainly not in favour of the proposed 4.7% rate increases. Not while we continue spending patterns that focus on the wants of a small minority and ignore the needs of the majority.
Yours truly,

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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