Spike in property tax bills shocks Calgary business owners

Click to play video: 'See a hike in your property tax bill? Calgarians voice concerns over spike'
See a hike in your property tax bill? Calgarians voice concerns over spike
WATCH: It might come as a shock for many Calgary businesses and homeowners as they check their mailboxes and open up their property tax bills. The city warned that taxes were going up because of downtown vacancies, but as Lauren Pullen reports, many are frustrated by how much more they have to pay – May 28, 2019

If you faced sticker shock when you opened your Calgary property tax bill, you aren’t alone.

Small businesses and homeowners are sounding the alarm over how much more they have to pay this year.

Because so many downtown businesses and offices sit empty, and property values in the core have continued to nosedive, the tax burden is falling on businesses in other areas of the city.

“It makes you angry,” Paul Gibney, a partner with wholesale supplier Cross Country Parts, said Tuesday. “We have to increase pricing. We can’t necessarily give raises, can’t help employees the way we want to.”

Cross Country Parts is a small business with 14 employees. Its property tax bill went up more than 25 per cent in 2019.

“It was just a sinking feeling when you suddenly realize you have to pay an additional $10,000 in bills you weren’t expecting,” Gibney said. “To pay the whole bill, we have to sell approximately $200,000 of product, so the first $200,000 we’re going to sell goes to pay our property taxes, which may not seem like a lot but it is to small business.”

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WATCH: City of Calgary tax manager Mike Perkins joins Linda Olsen to discuss the recent tax increases.

Click to play video: 'Calgary city manager talks taxes'
Calgary city manager talks taxes

“This is a terrible situation. We should have addressed this years ago,” Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek said.

“I feel terrible saying we didn’t solve the problem and small businesses are going to close and people are going to be laid off. We will have contributed to the problem in the city and I’m embarrassed about that.”

On Monday, city council voted down a safety net for any Calgary businesses facing property tax increases this year by scrapping the idea of a small business tax program.

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In an attempt to find a solution, council also approved a new financial task force to figure out how best to divvy the tax burden. The goal is to have recommendations by November, but nothing would change for the 2019 assessments.

With this latest tax shift, the homeowner versus business owner split sits at about 48 per cent to 52 per cent, respectively, according to Gondek. She has been an outspoken force for balancing the tax level.

“I believe the burden on the homeowner would have been an extra $110 this year, on the average homeowner, and there was a rebate possible with that $70.9 million that went toward the small business grant exploration. That would have allowed us to keep people whole for this year while we looked for cuts in the budget,” Gondek said.

“The non-residential property tax bill was going to see a $5,000 savings.”

But many homeowners are already crying foul over the increase council approved this year.

Several contacted Global News with their concerns over property tax spikes of thousands of dollars.


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