They Hiked Your Taxes
In the middle of a global viral pandemic, and the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, Calgary City Council decided to hike your taxes.
At a meeting on Monday afternoon, a socially distant (in every sense of the term) City Council passed a tax hike on homeowners and businesses who are - quite literally - struggling for survival.
And in the end, the vote wasn't even close. Every single Councillor except for Sean Chu and Jeromy Farkas supported the tax hike.
It makes you wonder in what world our local politicians are living in that they could be so tone deaf to think this was anywhere near an acceptable act.
The situation in Calgary isn't just difficult - it's dire.
A business confidence survey of thousands of businesses conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business makes clear just how bad the situation is for small businesses right now.
According to their survey, only one in three businesses in Alberta are fully open - the others are either partially or completely shut. Another one in three say they don't have enough money to pay their April bills.
And worst of all, 44% of businesses surveyed in Alberta say that if things continue in this manner, they will be forced to close their doors permanently.
But the news isn't much better for individuals either.
Earlier today, the government of Alberta projected that Alberta's unemployment rate would reach 25%, and could rise beyond that given the global slump in the price of oil.
And yet, despite mass unemployment and business confidence at its lowest level ever recorded, Calgary's City Council voted to hike taxes.
Perhaps, as the highest paid municipal politicians in the country and no threat to their own job security, Councillors don't understand just how scared and desperate Calgarians have become over the past month.
But the City of Calgary isn't facing anywhere near the same economic hardships as the rest of Calgary. In fact, City Council endorsed a staggering $4.1 billion in spending by the City of Calgary for this fiscal year.
And they balked at suggestions of finding savings to try and offset the tax hike they just dumped onto the backs of Calgarians.
The Calgary Opportunity Investment Fund, a $100 million slush fund operated by Calgary Economic Development which has yet to produce any real results was deemed too important by Mayor Nenshi to cut.
When asked about using money from this failed fund to help ordinary citizens or hold the line on tax increases, Mayor Nenshi responded that "those are approximately the most financial illiterate ideas I’ve ever heard."
Despite having failed to create jobs to date, the mayor stressed that the fund would be needed to create jobs in the future.
Save Calgary believes that the City of Calgary and our local elected officials should be more concerned with preserving and protecting the jobs we already have and which are now seriously at risk than with pie-in-the-sky plans to create new jobs through a dismal slush fund.
Monday's Council meeting demonstrated how out of touch and arrogant our City Council has become.
After years of spending freely with our tax dollars during so-called "good times," justifying higher taxes to pay for a growing city, they now demand even higher taxes to maintain their bloated spending during the darkest hour our city has faced in generations.
Instead of making prudent decisions to prepare for future hard times, they squandered our money and have now put their hand deeply back into our pockets, rummaging around for the few stray coins we have left.
What, exactly, is City Council's plan if half the small businesses in Calgary close their doors?
How will our city survive if more than one in four Calgarians remains unemployed for months?
We need bold leadership to see our city through this storm, but as City Council demonstrated so plainly on Monday night, bold leadership isn't what we have down at City Hall right now.
Instead, they decided to hike your taxes. Again.
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