Calgary city council has delayed finalizing 2019 tax rates for another week.
After a marathon debate on Monday, councillors decided to refrain from making any decisions until Monday, April 8.
Councillors have to figure out a way to make up for a $250-million deficit in taxes from sky-high downtown office vacancies.
They started by debating eight different options for handling tax rates but have narrowed those options down to two, both of which would result in a hike for homeowners.
One option is Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek’s plan to balance the tax burden for businesses and homeowners 50-50 as opposed to the current 55-45 split for businesses and homeowners, respectively. That would mean about an extra $100 over four years on the average home.
“For an average homeowner whose assessed value is about $475,000, we have already approved in the budget that their incremental increases by Year 4 would see them paying about $392 more than what they paid in 2018. What we are proposing now would have them at about $500,” Gondek said.
Gondek is also proposing rebates that would come from the city’s savings fund to help residential property owners.
The other option up for debate is Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s, which would increase the average tax bill for homeowners by about 3.45 per cent ($120) and two per cent for businesses but would free up some $70 million for a proposed small business sustainment grant.
“Businesses that are having a lot of trouble can apply to for a cash grant, money in their pockets to help their business stay vibrant, to market themselves, to get more business and so on,” Nenshi explained.
The mayor says council is also considering something new: a special tax bracket to help small businesses in the future.
“We’ve never been allowed to do this before,” he said on Monday. “Big business and small business had to pay the same amount. We now have the legislative ability to charge small businesses less so we’re going look at that for 2020 or 2021 implementation if we can do that in a way that makes sense.”
—With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo