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Calgary council to discuss tax rebate for residential property owners


After a city committee endorsed a motion to discuss tax relief Tuesday morning, council as a whole will have to decide whether to give residential property owners a break on their 2024 tax bills.

Council approved a 7.8 per cent property tax increase during budget discussions in November, but a new motion co-signed by six councillors wants administration to find $23 million in savings to bring that hike down.

If approved by two-thirds of council next week, the savings would essentially knock the tax increase down to 5.8 per cent by wiping out the cost of shifting the tax burden from non-residential to residential property owners.

According to the city, that shift represented two per cent of the 7.8 per cent total tax increase, or about $4 per month for the average home owner.

"Obviously people are very upset about (the tax increase), so we have to reconsider and see what we can do to find that some savings. There's room inside our municipal government to find savings," said Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean.

McLean and Cllrs. Sonya Sharp, Terry Wong, Sean Chu, Andre Chabot and Jennifer Wyness –who all voted against the initial tax increase in November – brought forth the motion Tuesday.

While the motion does not make any suggestions for where to find cost savings, some of the councillors who support the changes say programs to boost safety and affordable housing should not be touched.

"Every penny counts," said Sharp, who added the city should look at cutting costs in human resources or other internal programs to find savings.

November's budget approval saw spending increase due to a long list of new investments, including funding for the Calgary Fire Department, the city's mental health and addictions strategy and parks and playgrounds updates.

Costs also escalated due to "corporate inflationary pressures" and "human resources support," city administration said.

"I get that everything costs more... groceries, everything costs more, but some things you have to pay for and they actually return bigger results to you than the upfront costs," said Coun. Gian-Carlo Carr, who supported the motion moving to council for debate, but says he stands by his support for the budget and tax increase.

If the motion passes, administration would have to go and search for savings and bring it back to council for a meeting in February.

That work, city officials said, would be intensive and cause delays to implementing the new spending already approved.

"Something like this, I would suggest it's an across the board kind of reduction exercise. We have done those as a city in the past and we know that doing those don't always result in reductions that are palatable or it actually will result in an actual service cut," said Carla Male, the city's chief financial officer.

Council will debate the motion on Jan. 30.

Because the motion is a reconsideration of a budget that was already approved, it will need the support of at least 10 councillors to pass. Top Stories

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