3 things to watch at city council today

Monday's city council will feature a bit of everything — from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.

Property tax increase, democratic reform and school bus lights all on agenda

Monday's city council will feature a bit of everything — from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.

The meeting will start with a photo-op as council pays tribute to the Calgary-based athletes of the recent Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Then it gets down to business. Here are some of the highlights of what is expected.

Take it or leave it

Council will set this year's property tax increase — and it appears there will indeed be one.

Confused? It's no wonder.

Taxpayers will recall last November when council approved a five per cent property tax increase but it was believed the hike would essentially be reduced to zero in 2014 through a one-time property tax rebate of $52 million.

In this year's provincial budget, the Redford Tories lowered the education tax by a further $10 million and so once again, council will be considering on Monday whether to not allow that tax cut to be passed on by raising its property taxes by the same amount.

The bottom line is council will consider hitting Calgarians with a 4.8 per cent property tax increase.

For the median-priced Calgary home — which is $430,000 — that would mean a tax hike of $123 in 2014 when homeowners may have been expecting a tax freeze this year.

Tighter reins on the 'Wild West?'

Coun. Druh Farrell is the lone name on a couple of motions looking at democratic reform in Calgary.

She wants stricter limits on election campaign spending (the equivalent of $1 per resident) and tighter limits on maximum contributions (from $20,000 per term, per candidate to $5,000 as well as banning all contributions from corporations and unions).

This is currently under provincial jurisdiction, but Calgary and Edmonton are both negotiating city charters with the province. 

Farrell also has another motion suggesting City of Calgary administrators do a report by June 2016 on how to boost turnout in the 2017 election.

School bus lights

A seven-year-old boy was hit and injured earlier this month after stepping off his school bus in the northwest community of Kincora.

The incident has two councillors, Joe Magliocca and Peter Demong, asking administration to examine amending a city bylaw that currently prohibits the use of the red flashing lights on school buses in much of the City of Calgary.

If approved Monday, a report would come back to city council later this year.

About the Author

Scott Dippel

Politics Reporter

Scott Dippel has been at CBC News for more than two decades across four provinces. His roles have included legislative reporter, news reader, assignment editor and national reporter. When not at Calgary's City Hall, it's still all politics, all the time.


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