Calgary council to debate how to use $23.7M in ‘tax room’ from province
Calgary councillors will be debating how to use $23.7 million in extra revenue left over from the provincial budget.
The money is available thanks to a discrepancy between municipal and provincial taxes; the provincial tax request was lower than what the city had budgeted for, creating so-called “tax room.”
“It’s a very small amount of money, less than a dollar a month for the average house,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “The real question council needs to ask themselves is, ‘Will doing something with that money now provide council to have a lower tax rate next year?’”
A report before city council on Monday says the money is “available” to fund “various critical initiatives” if council “so chooses.”
“We need to find the money to cover off the 1.5 per cent rebate to get us to zero this year in the next budget. We also have some debt servicing, particularly around the green line,” Nenshi said.
Coun. Ward Sutherland is in favour of seeing the money returned to Calgarians.
“People don’t realize this $23 million is every year forever. When they say ‘we’re going to save it’—we’re not saving it; it goes right to the operating budget forever.”
Coun. Ray Jones, meanwhile, thinks the excess money should be given back to the public.
“Same as when we voted on the $52 million, I thought that money should have gone back and I think this money should go back,” he said. “It’s not council’s money, it’s the public’s.”
In 2013, council approved using the unexpected windfall on local flood repair costs.
With files from Global’s Gary Bobrovitz.
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