This week was difficult. Many Calgary businesses received their property tax bills and saw an unsustainable increase that threatens their livelihood.
I apologize that those tax bills went out and the anxieties they have caused the business community. Those bills should have never have gone out. I also apologize that during this economic crisis there has been a lack of leadership, right from the top.
This problem has been a long time coming. Past city councils have made some questionable decisions on City taxation. Quite honestly, we have depended too much on businesses to support our city. Now, the process around assessment has failed us– and businesses are closing.
With all that said, there is a group of City Councillors prepared to make a fix come Monday:
First, we have committed $71 million from our “rainy day” fund to help offset these outrageous business tax hikes. There is no doubt that it is raining hard right now and we need to protect businesses.
Second, – our plan will direct the administration to find an additional $60 M in operating budget cuts by the end of July.
This is $131 million will ensure that 2019 non-residential taxes will not increase over 2018 rates, and will in fact, ensure a cut from those 2018’s non-residential rates. We need our businesses in our communities to stay as healthy as possible and this will provide immediate relief.
Finally, we will be talking to our partners in the Province to find a solution together that addresses the assessment reform, so that this does not happen again.
A long-term fix is needed, and I am fully prepared to have that conversation. But for now, please accept my apology for this mess and know that those of us on City Council who are willing to stand up and protect small business in our City. Thank you.