Calgary city council to finalize $3B budget

City council members will roll up their sleeves Monday as they prepare to finalize next year's budget.

Spending plan calls for a 5.7% increase in the city's portion of property taxes

Calgary city council members started to finalize next year's budget. 2:04

City council members will roll up their sleeves Monday as they prepare to finalize next year's budget.

Council has set aside all week to debate the $3-billion spending plan, which calls for a 5.7 per cent increase in the city's portion of home property taxes.

Calgarians will also pay higher transit fees and pay more to go to golf courses, swimming pools and arenas. City utilities will also cost more.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he'd like to see less spending, but expectations are low.

"I will certainly keep looking with my sharpened pencil for more efficiencies, but I want to be realistic about the fact that we worked hard on that last year and came up with a large number of efficiencies for the public," Nenshi said.

The theme of this budget seems to be "pay more to get more."

Transit service will be boosted, new 911 operators will be hired and the city's new round the clock emergency operations centre will open.

The new centre is where city officials can direct responses to situations like flooding, tornadoes or other emergencies.

Nenshi has criticized the $2.1-million a year price tag — asking why no one planned for the annual cost to run it.

"I really want to be very clear that administration has been as efficient as they can in thinking about this and also really ask the question why this wasn't baked into the three-year budget already?" Nenshi said.

For the third budget in a row, Ald. Peter Demong is likely to vote against the budget, saying the tax hike is just too high.

"Anything above four per cent is I don't believe is justifiable, especially when we're dealing with an inflation rate, [Consumer Price Index], of fewer than two per cent," Demong said.

If the planned tax hike goes ahead, it will add about $80 a year to the average homeowner's property tax bill.