Alberta carbon tax one of largest 'unknowns' for Calgary budget, says city councillor

Ward Sutherland says the city having a tough time budgeting for the future because of a lack of information from the province about the real cost of the carbon levy.

City report says $6M increase in operating budget only 'rough' estimate

‘It really needs to be thought out better,’ says Ward 1 councillor Ward Sutherland. (Danielle Nerman/CBC)

A Calgary councillor says the provincial carbon tax is one of the largest "unknowns" for the future city budgets.

"Why it's an unknown is we're not given any details yet," Ward Sutherland, the vice-chair of the city's Priorities and Finance Committee, told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"It really needs to be thought out better."

Could cost the city $6M

According to a report being presented to council on Monday, at this point city staff can only make a "rough" estimate as to how much the carbon levy will increase the 2017 operating budget.

And right now, they're estimating it will cost $6-million more to fuel and power the city next year.

While the report said the impact of the carbon tax on gas and diesel "appears to be straightforward, on a per litre basis," natural gas and electricity are "more complex to forecast because of the market structure for delivery, billing, and real-time pricing."

"So we're trying to figure out our budgeting for this and we actually can't at this moment," said Sutherland.

Non-profits worried

The Ward 1 councillor said the lack of information from the province about rebates is worrisome for some not-for profits.

He said the Bowness Seniors' Centre was told by Enmax that its electrical bill could go up $400 per month.

"So we have Calgary Housing, we have all these different divisions, and we're not quite sure how it's going to work out. And even if we have to pay and get money back later, that's not very productive. Exemptions for that type of thing should really happen."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener