Managing City finances

Managing City finances

Keeping the cost of municipal government low

Calgary has been in tough spots before with the downturns in the 80’s, 90’s, 2009 and 2015 through to today. We’ve weathered the boom and bust cycle by spending wisely and reinvesting in our city.​

Since 2014, when the economy started to slow The City has adjusted how it has spent municipal property tax revenue. In fact, tax-supported operating expenditures were reduced below inflation and population growth during these years – an indicator that the municipality is living within its means.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Distributing property tax more equitably

City Council has continued to manage and maintain the overall tax increase and spending below inflation and population growth. Council has also taken action to help support the local economy by distributing the responsibility for property tax revenue more equitably between non-residential and residential properties.

Since 2014, residential property taxes have increased more than inflation and population growth, due to the redistribution of tax responsibility from non-residential to residential property owners This was not due to growth in overall City spending.

Non-residential/business properties make up a much smaller proportion of the assessment base than residential properties, yet they have been paying a higher proportion of the overall municipal property tax revenue each year.

To rectify the problem, some municipal tax responsibility was shifted from non-residential to residential taxpayers. This is not a tax rate increase to fund additional services, but an increase in the share of property tax that residential property owners are paying to lessen the amount paid by local businesses to help support the local economy.

In addition, 2019 tax room was identified based on the assumption that the increase in the provincial education requisition for residential taxpayers was lower than the municipal increase. This tax room, while maintaining the increase in the combined residential bill at the Council approved rate, was also used to reduce taxes for non-residential taxpayers.

Meeting the needs of Calgarians in a fiscally responsible way

We’re committed to delivering services that meet the wants and needs of Calgarians, support our economy and reduce the cost of local government. Two programs designed to help us achieve this commitment include:

  • The Solutions for Achieving Value and Excellence (SAVE) Program is a strategic approach to cost-savings that will help address the realities of The City’s financial situation. Through SAVE’s strategic approach, The City exceeded its 2021 target of $24 million in savings and was able to identify $26 million in net base budget savings, $1 million in revenue and additional one-time savings.
  • The Zero-Based Review (ZBR) is a long-standing program that raises The City’s care and attention to restraining expenditures and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs and services. Per Council’s direction, all ZBRs will be wrapped into SAVE until 2022.

Supporting Calgary’s economy and reducing the cost of local government​

  • ​To keep Calgary’s property tax rate among the low​est in Canada, we’ve found over $600 million in cost savings and efficiencies in 2015-2018
  • We achieved approximately $143 million in savings and efficiencies in 2019 as part of the One Calgary 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets and City efforts to reduce the cost of local government.
  • Invested a total of $8.8 billion in roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure since the downturn began in 2014 to create jobs and move Calgary’s economic recovery forward.

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