City Budget 2021 relieves short-term financial pressure, but structural challenges go unaddressed
The following statement is attributable to Murray Sigler, interim CEO, Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Calgary, November 27, 2020 – “Budget 2021 will relieve some of the financial pressure faced by businesses and citizens during this difficult time. It includes an overall tax rate decrease of 1.77 per cent and a 10 per cent cap on non-residential property tax increases. While these measures point us in the right direction, we must ensure fairness in our property tax system and deliver long-term sustainable budgeting.
“Many businesses in Calgary will still see property tax increases next year due to structural problems within the tax system, and the shift of the tax burden from the high rises in our downtown to businesses outside of the core.
“There is more work to do, and our position on the City’s finances remain clear:
Continue to reduce costs and increase effectiveness of local government. Budget 2021 takes positive steps and we must remain focused on this goal by considering longer term efficiencies, such as privatizing services, hiring lower cost consultants, and increasing operational efficiencies.
Reduce non-residential to residential property tax ratio to 2.8 to 1 by 2022. Calgary has one of the highest ratios across comparable Canadian cities. Reducing it will increase our competitiveness and enable businesses to start and grow here.
We need to reimagine the municipal-provincial relationship. COVID-19 has laid bare the considerable responsibility our municipalities have to deliver services to citizens, and the fiscal problems and limitations they face. Legislative and regulatory changes are needed to enable cities to innovate when it comes to generating revenue, such as investigating property tax assessment reform.
Make better use of non-revenue generating city-owned land. We urge the City to consider selling or leasing this land to revenue-generating activities.
“The City’s current financial position demands thoughtful and creative solutions to reduce costs and generate revenue without placing the tax burden on businesses and the citizens they employ and serve. We urge collaboration between the municipal and provincial governments to find long-term solutions and build vibrant and prosperous communities.
“The Calgary Chamber stands ready to facilitate discussions with our business community, and to bring forward solutions.”
About the Calgary Chamber
The Calgary Chamber is an independent non-profit, non-partisan business organization. For 129 years the Chamber has worked to build a business community that nourishes, powers and inspires the world.
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