Budget deliberations day 1
Council spent the first day of budget deliberations hearing from local businesses, community organizations, and ordinary Calgarians about their priorities for this year's budget adjustments.
The speakers reflected the diversity of views that Calgarians have on this budget. Some people want to see greater investment in key areas, while some are very concerned about affordability and the effect of rising taxes.
Some of the top themes raised included:
- Overal affordability and taxes
- Affordable housing and housing affordability
- Public safety
- Support from The City for local businesses
- Transportation, including cycling infrastructure and Transit
Capital spending & Property taxes
Some Calgarians are worried that previously approved capital projects like the Event Centre are driving property tax increases.
Administration clarified that the Event Centre and other capital projects are funded differently from The City's recurring operating expenses. In order to deliver programs and services year after year, The City needs stable revenue like property taxes.
The Event Centre, along with the Arts Commons Transformation, BMO Centre expansion, and Foothills Fieldhouse, has been part of The City's plans for several years, and was previously approved as part of The City's budget. It remains true that the Event Centre won't require an increase in property taxes or any new debt for The City.
Calgary needs to be affordable, safe, and vibrant. The Event Centre includes not just an arena, but a community rink, indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, and significant public infrastructure improvements that will allow The City to complete its vision for the Culture + Entertainment District. It will also contribute to our economic growth by attracting further investment and increasing our property tax base, allowing us to invest in more of our city's priorities for the long term.
Capital project misconceptions
Councillor Sharp's takeaways
Today's deliberations emphasized the need to address two areas of top concern: safety and affordability.
Councillor Sharp believes that Council should invest in public safety and projects to support affordable housing. But Council also needs to address affordability for Calgarians. Raising property taxes even further than Council already approved won't make life easier for Calgarians.
In the coming days, Councillor Sharp will be considering amendments to focus on the most important priorities while reducing the pressure on Calgarians who are already struggling with affordability.
Categories: Budget, General