Calgary city council to look at rebate aimed at offsetting property tax hike

This photo of downtown Calgary was captured by a drone in March 2017. (Ed Middleton/CBC - image credit)
This photo of downtown Calgary was captured by a drone in March 2017. (Ed Middleton/CBC - image credit)

City council will discuss a proposed rebate next week that aims to reduce the 2024 property tax hike for Calgary homeowners.

Last fall, council passed a 7.8 per cent residential property tax increase for this year. On Tuesday, six councillors brought forward a motion to rebate some of those costs.

The motion, which will go to debate next week, outlines $23 million in relief for Calgary's residential property taxpayers.

Coun. Sonya Sharp told the Calgary Eyeopener that property taxes are increasing but that's only one part of the costs Calgarians face.

"When we approve a budget, we're only approving the budget amount. We forget — or not look at — what the possibility of assessed values of homes may be, come the new year," said the Ward 1 representative.

Councillors Terry Wong (Ward 7), Andre Chabot (Ward 10), Jennifer Wyness (Ward 2), Sean Chu (Ward 4) and Dan McLean (Ward 13) have supported the motion.

Wong said Calgarians are asking council to reconsider the property tax increase, which is why the motion was brought forward.

During an executive committee meeting Tuesday, city chief financial officer Carla Male said budget deliberations typically conclude in November so that there is clarity regarding budget direction and capital when the next year begins.

For a rebate such as the one introduced by the motion, there may need to be an "across the board" reduction in all city departments, she said.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who represents Ward 9, said not enough work has been done on the motion, and increased taxes are needed to address the city's explosive growth.

"The dream is that we can just sort of find budgetary savings," he said.

"I can't imagine a world where having deliberated the budget the way we deliberated it and made the tough decisions that we made — we're just going to reverse it randomly."

The motion will go to council for debate on Jan. 30. In order for the motion to pass, a total of 10 councillors would need to support the motion as it's a reconsideration of council's budget vote in November.

Council will finalize this year's tax bill in the spring, once it gets the provincial government's requisition for the education property tax.

Tax bills will be mailed out in May.