Homeowners are facing 12.5% tax increases over the next four years
Calgary has a new budget with new tax increases for everybody.
Homeowners are facing 12.5% tax increases over the next four years, and businesses are seeing increases of up to 10% this year alone!
Calgary is still reeling from the economic downturn that has emptied out a huge chunk of the downtown core - but that's only one reason why Calgary is facing financial difficulty.
The real reason behind our fiscal woes is years of unrestrained spending increases, particularly on salaries, wages, benefits, and pensions for City employees - spending in those areas now exceeds a whopping $2 billion per year.
Meanwhile, City Council refused to make the tough decisions our city needs if it is to both whether these tough economic times and put itself back on a strong fiscal footing.
Wages are set to increase - again - for unionized city employees. City employees will continue to enjoy premium benefits and bank-breaking defined benefit pension plans.
Instead, City Council once again just passed the buck to taxpayers and decided to hike their taxes again, at a time when most families are struggling to make ends meet.
For the record, the Councillors who opposed the year-over-year tax plan passed by Council last week are:
Sean Chu (Ward 4)
George Chahal (Ward 5)
Jeromy Farkas (Ward 11)
Diane Colley-Urquhart (Ward 13)
Peter Demong (Ward 14)
Just think of the higher costs facing both families and businesses over the past few years.
Families are paying higher property taxes and city fees, surcharges, and levies. Many are paying more income tax, and more in gas taxes, and taxes on everyday goods. They're paying carbon taxes on the things they buy each and every day like groceries. They're dealing with cuts to their wages and even loss of employment. Every level of government has made their lives more expensive, and it's reaching an absolute breaking point.
The story for businesses is even worse. They're paying significantly more in property taxes, as well as those same increases in city fees, surcharges, and levies. They're getting hammered by higher costs through increases to the minimum wage, labour law changes, and provincial tax increases. The federal government is pushing for major tax hikes on businesses. And their cost of doing business is dramatically higher because of the carbon tax. More and more businesses are having to cut their staff or even close their doors because the costs have become unbearable.
And what is the City's plan to address these problems?
They're providing more money to groups like Calgary Economic Development.
You may recall that the head of Calgary Economic Development took a leave to go head Calgary's defeated Olympics. A bid so thoroughly rejected by voters that it should make boosters really consider why they pushed so hard and spent so much to back a bid supported by so few Calgarians.
This same group also helped establish a $100 million corporate welfare fund to give companies money to create jobs - their first grant was to a personal friend and political supporter of Mayor Nenshi.
But what exactly has Calgary Economic Development done to grow Calgary's economy and create new jobs? They seem to have put most of their eggs in the Olympics basket since the person heading the EDC was on leave to the Olympics bid committee for months.
We believe that Calgary Economic Development should take a hard look in the mirror and think about how they're spending our tax dollars, given their focus on the Olympics and overall failure to significantly improve either Calgary's economy or employment rate.
We can't afford to waste more time and money as we did on the failed Olympics bid.