Council approves 3.45 per cent 2019 residential property tax hike

CTV Calgary Staff

Published Monday, April 8, 2019 6:45PM MDT

Last Updated Monday, April 8, 2019 6:48PM MDT

Calgary homeowners can expect to pay more in taxes to the city this year after council approved a tax plan that will see the average homeowner pay $105 more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

The tax hike was implemented to offset a $250 million hole in the city’s budget that was created by reduced property values, the result of office vacancies.

“There are a lot of people that are worried that we’re going to increase the burden on homeowners,” said Ward 3 councillor Jyoti Gondek, “but, I have to say this, with businesses closing their doors and people getting laid off, I’m very worried Calgarians will not have a job and not be able to keep a roof over their heads.”

Council originally voted down the tax option on Monday afternoon but reopened the vote less than an hour later. The tax bylaw passed the second time by a vote of 8-7.

A report from the Alberta Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggests City spending, including funding commitments to big projects like the BMO Centre expansion and a new event centre/arena, outpaced both population growth and inflation and dug the City into a hole.

“We were told that all these things could be done without tax increases and yet here we are, before we even do any of those things, and they’re having to raise taxes,” said Peter McCaffrey, president of the Alberta Institute. “How on earth can they promise to do all of these extra things and not raise taxes when they’re already raising taxes?”

The approved tax option plan will also provide relief to non-residential property owners through a small tax rate reduction and opens the door for a potential grant program to help smaller businesses.

The Calgary Chamber said the tax plan is a step in the right direction but more could have been done to help businesses by addressing the inequity in the tax rates of residential and non-residential properties.

“While the Calgary business community appreciates council’s efforts to begin the shift to a fairer, more equitable property tax burden for businesses, we remain troubled the decision today does not go far enough in addressing the structural changes needed to fix the inequity problem for the long term,” said Dr. Sandip Lali, president and CEO of the Calgary  Chamber in a statement released Monday afternoon. “We are also concerned about the uncertainty for immediate relief needed this year for businesses experiencing sharply inflated tax bills due to the downtown tax shift.”

Tax bills reflecting the new rate are scheduled to be mailed out by the end of May. The average increase of $105 is based on a home valued at $475,000.

With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin

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