Calgary 2014 budget could mean $95 average tax hike
Proposed budget released Thursday, council debate to start Nov. 25
If Calgary city council votes to approve adjustments to the 2014 budget, it will mean the average household will pay nearly $95 more in property taxes next year.
City administration released the budget adjustments late Thursday morning. Administrators say the plan, which is based on a 6.1 per cent property tax increase, would allow the the city to continue the current level of services.
The budget will be debated by council starting Nov. 25.
More reports, detailing exactly what which user fees and utility rates will go up, will be released within a week or two, said the city's chief financial officer Eric Sawyer.
Citizens can expect the largest increases to be for utility rates, said Sawyer. In last year's budget documents, wastewater fees, for both flat and metered rates, were projected to go up by 13.5 per cent in 2014. The CFO said the 2014 rates will increase beyond that. Stormwater drainage rates, drafted in 2013 to go up by 4.9 per cent, and flat and metered water rates, projected to go up by 7.4 per cent, will also see increases, said Sawyer.
Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot said Thursday he will not support a six per cent increase.
"I think we could probably get it down to at least three [per cent], but that's using that $52 million — anything lower than that will be a challenge."
Chabot said that a 2.1 per cent increase could be possible, but that would mean reducing council's, and citizens', expectations.
Chabot said anything lower than a three per cent increase would mean scaling back proposed service levels that council has discussed over the last year — such as adding more hours of transit service — some of which he thinks are justified.
The proposed 55,000 hours of additional transit service will be paid by higher than expected fare box revenues, according to budget documents.
Newly-elected Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland says he’ll support what he campaigned on — a 2.2 per cent increase that is in line with inflation.
“I think there’s room to move without reducing any of the frontline services,” said Sutherland.
The property tax increase for 2013 was 5.5 per cent.
Prior to the budget's release, Mayor Naheed Nenshi expressed optimism the tax increase can be whittled below six per cent. He was out of town Thursday but his office issued a statement.
"This draft budget proposal is based on the direction of the previous council and will form the basis for our budget discussion later this month," Nenshi said in a statement after the budget was released Thursday.
"As I have done in previous years, I will continue to search for more efficiencies in the budget. I look forward to discussing the proposed budget — and a few of my own ideas — with Calgarians and council in the coming weeks.”