City hall seeks relief from large tax hike for business property owners
Mayor and 13 councillors seek $191M in funds from budget cuts, province
A majority of Calgary city councillors say it's urgent to cut taxes for businesses in this city, and the mayor and 13 councillors announced Thursday they want to give $71 million to non-residential property owners, find another $60 million in budget cuts, and ask the province to reduce its property tax by $60 million as well.
The group says they came up with a new plan after Council couldn't come to an agreement on quick relief for businesses that continue to struggle with the economic downturn.
"We're talking about structural change here at city hall," said Councillor Diane Colley Urquhart. "It's a fundamental structural shift in the way we allocate tax dollars from citizens and that doesn't mean taxing people more."
More than half of Calgary business property owners are looking at tax hikes above 10 per cent.
Earlier this week, council rejected a $71 million small business grant program. Now it's pledging to get that money to businesses, find $60 million more dollars in savings — and ask the provincial government to lower its property tax by $60 million.
Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart says it's reasonable to ask Premier Kenney to help lower taxes by having the province match the $60 million in municipal savings.
"We think that we can work together with Premier Kenney on a go-forward basis to work together to solve this," she said.
The mayor and 13 members of council are backing the plan.
Jeromy Farkas — who wasn't involved in the group — is outlining his own plan to address the issue.
He wants council to cut its own salaries and office budgets, cut non-unionized salaries and find $35 million in cuts.
"Calgary businesses are facing a crushing tax burden as a result of council's inaction and inability to address overspending," Farkas said in a press release Thursday. "I refuse to accept the idea that our council is willing to do nothing while every business in this town has put all they have on the line just to survive."
City council will discuss the relief plan next month.
With files from Scott Dippel