On June 27th, Council approved a zero percent property tax increase for 2017. The City recognises the need to respond to financial pressures due to the economic recession. The City also continuously works to find efficiencies as a regular part of City operations through rolling zero-based department reviews. As a result of these reviews, the City has found $86.4 million in efficiencies since 2012. A zero percent increase requires more drastic measures.
A tax freeze means that some City services will be reduced or cut. City Administration will present a proposal to Council later this year that will include a list of services to be reduced. Calgarians can expect to see changes such as less frequent maintenance of public spaces and slower response times for 311 requests. Given that nearly every request to my office is for increased service, some of the reductions will be challenging. The City strives to provide great service, so Council, by supporting service reductions, shows the difficulty of the economic recession. These are extraordinary times.
Even with service reductions, the projected property tax increase remains at 1.5%. To reach zero percent, City Council voted to dip into the City’s Fiscal Stability Reserve. This rainy day fund is intended for challenging situations and will need to be paid back.
The decision on Monday does not necessarily mean there will be no property tax increase in 2017 as the provincial increase is unknown at this time. Calgary is obligated to collect property taxes for the Province and this currently accounts for about 40% of Calgarians’ property taxes bill. Given that zero percent is the typical rate city-wide, properties that experience value increases may also still see increases in property taxes.
In exchange for a zero percent increase, both City Council and residents will need to temper our expectations of City services. Council members were also asked to lighten our requests of City Administration. We ask for your patience and tolerance as you may notice a small decline in service.
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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.