Calgary council to look at temporary business tax solution Monday

City council to address tax crisis in Calgary
WATCH: The tax crisis in Calgary is leaving many small businesses scrambling, and as Christa Dao reports, city council is looking to address the sky-high taxes soon.

Calgary’s city council will be putting aside time Monday morning to deal with the issue of skyrocketing property taxes for businesses.

Several members of council are working on a plan that will see non-residential ratepayers pay roughly the same amount of tax they did in 2018.

READ MORE: Calgary city councillors propose two approaches to business tax relief

The city’s fiscal sustainability reserve fund — the $70.9 million so-called rainy day fund — and the corporate budget savings account is proposed to be used to deal with this year’s tax hikes.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said using those funds will result in a 0.55% property tax increase for businesses over what they paid last year.

“There is no question that it’s a band-aid I don’t deny that,” the mayor said. “But as I often say, if you’re bleeding, get the band-aid.”

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READ MORE: Kenney government introduces bill allowing multi-year tax incentives for business

Property tax bills were mailed out at the end of May, but councillors on the priorities and finance committee were told there could be adjustments made for this year’s taxes that are due by June 30.

Council has been dealing with the issue since late last fall and the mayor admits council could have dealt with this sooner.

READ MORE: Calgary councillors give Kensington legion one-time tax break

“At the end of the day we could have had this solution last November,” Nenshi said. “Council requested a bunch of time to think about other options, then didn’t come up with any other options, so here we are.”

Also part of a proposal that will come forward includes asking city administration to find $60-million in budget savings this year and beyond, and an ask to the province for $60-million in tax relief.

READ MORE: Calgary’s proposed property tax relief plan not receiving provincial support

However the answer to the latter ask was “No” before the request was even posed to the province.

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Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas has a different plan that includes asking unionized employees to take a wage cut. And he wants to carve into a $100-million fund that is earmarked to entice businesses to set up in Calgary.

READ MORE: City of Calgary assessing public golf courses for possible tax dollar savings

Farkas is pleased the issue is coming at a meeting on June 10 and not June 17.

“The sooner the better,” the Ward 11 councillor said. “A lot of people have been looking to not just city council but city hall administration to find a workable and permanent solution to this.

“We’re years down the process, this should not have been a surprise to anybody.”