Calgary

Council votes in favour of 4th year of 'one-time' rebates for business property taxes

Calgary businesses will get another so-called "one-time" rebate to soften the blow of property tax increases for the fourth year in a row.

Council voted in favour of spending $30M to limit tax hikes to no more than 10%

Council voted in support of spending $30 million to ease tax hikes for business property owners. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Calgary businesses will get another so-called "one-time" rebate to soften the blow of property tax increases for the fourth year in a row.

Council voted shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday in favour of a $30-million rebate for business property owners that would limit tax hikes to no more than 10 per cent. 

Councillors Druh Farrell and Jyoti Gondek were the only votes against, with councillors Evan Woolley, Ray Jones and Diane Colley-Urquhart absent. 

Many of the votes in favour were done with a bad taste in councillors' mouths. 

"Like everyone else, it's a 'hold my nose vote' for me, but I think it's the right thing to do," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. 

Coun. Jeromy Farkas said "vomit was rising in his throat" as he said he voted in favour, to the disgust of some others in the room, who made gagging noises. 

"I apologize … I'll avoid being so graphic in future," Farkas joked. "[But] it's kind of sad because I think about us getting to this point as a council, four or five years into this property tax relief program that still is not lending any clear relief."

Gondek said she felt better things could be done with the $30 million to assist the business community.

"I can't support this because I can't feel this is the best way to support this issue," she said.

The money comes from leftover funds from past rebate programs and the city's fiscal stability reserve. If approved when presented to council, 5,071 properties would be eligible. 

In 2019, the city approved $130.9 million for the rebate, following $41 million in 2018 and $45 million in 2017.

City administration said downtown property values have somewhat stabilized from the decline seen in recent years. In November, council voted to shift some of the burden from business to residential property owners. 

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