URGENT NOTICE OF MOTION Re: Capital Spending, Frontline Service Cuts & Ongoing Tax Crisis

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URGENT NOTICE OF MOTION
July 28, 2019

Re: UNPRECEDENTED CAPITAL SPENDING, FRONTLINE SERVICE CUTS AND GROWING TAX CRISIS

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WHEREAS as aligned citizens, taxpayers and small business owners in Calgary, we formally request the attention of Mayor and Council to address urgent questions concerning all Calgarians;

AND WHEREAS significant cuts have been made to critical frontline services in Calgary including emergency response times, affordable housing, public transit, policing and beyond, with a stated assurance of more to come;

AND WHEREAS Calgary residential and commercial property taxes continue to see year over year increases, with recurring reference of additional increases needed in order to fix the 'broken system,' and finance 'citizen expectations' in the operating budget rather than or in addition to capital spending by City Hall;

AND WHEREAS citizens and homeowners have a severe lack of insight as to what their property tax increases will be in 2020 and beyond, in order to finance approved and proposed $1.5 billion of capital spending;

AND WHEREAS Calgary's small business community is facing a tax crisis for the fourth consecutive year, significantly shouldering the loss of $1 billion in downtown office tower tax revenues between 2015-2018, with continued downtown property devaluation anticipated;

AND WHEREAS the small business community urgently seeks to know Council's intentions to permanently mitigate the broken commercial property tax situation longterm, following a 10% cut to 2019 property tax bills, paid through City reserve funds and frontline service cuts, and tax increases as high as 350%;

BE IT RESOLVED that without clear answers to these fundamental economic questions, Calgarians cannot effectively operate viable households or businesses now and in future, nor support the immense capital spending at hand.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT COUNCIL:

  1. Immediately inform Calgarians as to how their current taxes and municipal services are projected to be impacted in 2020, given the stated lack of remaining reserve funds and the City's acknowledgement that, in addition to the $60 million in cuts to the operating budget passed by City Council on July 22, "further savings will be needed in 2020 and beyond."
  2. Share its plans for immediate property tax reform and the timeline for implementation. This includes amending the current residential to commercial property tax ratio of $1:$4.47, the highest of its kind in Canada, addressing commercial property assessment policy and transparency, and partnering with the province in revising the Municipal Government Act as needed.
  3. Promptly inform Calgarians of Council's plans to build and finance the Green Line LRT, including plans for mitigating further losses to downtown property tax revenues resulting from the multi-year construction of the downtown alignment and proposed 4km tunnel under the Bow River and Beltline district. Further, provide decisive information as to how downtown and Beltline businesses will be spared the same catastrophic effects as endured by 17th Avenue SW's underground utility upgrades and crippling year-over-year tax increases. 


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