Calgary Chamber Statement on City Budget for 2020
December 2, 2019
City must work with province to build vibrant and prosperous communities
“During a time of prolonged economic difficulty and uncertainty, we recognize that there are no easy choices when it comes to balancing the needs of our citizens with the economic realities we face.
“As the conversation around the kitchen table becomes ever more costly, families are making difficult decisions every single day, business owners and entrepreneurs are making tough choices and our city must do the same.
“Council’s decision to subsidize a tax increase with $24 million in one-time funding, which effectively increases taxes by just 0.7 per cent and buys the city more time to make further budget reductions, has been the same strategy used for the last two years. It further exacerbates the issue and does not offer a long-term sustainable solution, considering there will be a municipal election in 2021.
“We urge the City to work with the provincial government to find long-term solutions. Building vibrant and prosperous communities, now and into the future, require that we all row in the same direction with conviction.
Municipal budget takes first step towards more equitable property tax system, but there is more work to do
“We appreciate City Council taking the first step towards a more equitable property tax system by approving a shift in the property tax distribution to 52 per cent residential, 48 per cent non-residential. This shift is a crucial first step to the viability and competitiveness of Calgary’s businesses.
“A shift in the tax ratio is only one of three key components for long -term structural changes to the property tax system that the Calgary Chamber has advocated for since 2017.
“As we head into 2020, the Calgary Chamber will further call upon and continue to advocate strongly for:
- Reduction of costs, increased effectiveness and impact of local government. While we appreciate Council applying constraint to the 2020 budget, long-term efficiencies must remain a focus. This can include privatizing services, hiring lower-cost consultants, increasing operational effectiveness, and implementing procurement practices that prioritize local Calgary businesses.
- The sale of city-owned land. Selling non-revenue generating land will increase the tax base and revenues for the City.
- Further reduction of the tax ratio to 2.8:1 by 2022. The approved tax shift is a strong first step, but Calgary still has one of the highest ratios across major Canadian cities. In order to increase Calgary’s competitiveness and encourage business to develop here, a further reduction in the tax ratio will be required.
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About the Calgary Chamber
The Calgary Chamber is an independent non-profit, non-partisan business organization. For 128 years, the Chamber has worked to build a business community that nourishes, powers, and inspires the world.