Calgary’s mayor is preparing city homeowners for a property tax increase as a result of the Alberta provincial budget announced on Thursday.
“The province is not paying its taxes,” said Naheed Nenshi on Thursday. “If they are not paying the property tax, then all the rest of us have to make up for that tax that they are not paying. And that will be an increase to your property taxes.
“We want to make it clear to Calgarians that we are just the tax collector. This is their (provincial government’s) tax increase.”
READ MORE: Winners and losers in Alberta budget 2019
The province has increased the amount of property taxes it will be taking from the city by $15.5 million over the year before.
“Instead of paying an efficient tax to the provincial government, you are going to end up paying more property tax which is a regressive, inefficient, horrible tax,” Nenshi said.
The mayor said the City of Calgary has kept tax increases below inflation and population growth since the beginning of the economic downturn. He said Calgary property taxes remain some of the lowest in the country.
“They (the province) have given us no choice but to increase your property taxes or cut services to the most vulnerable people,” Nenshi said. “We will continue to find efficiencies — we always do. But this is going to be tough.”
Nenshi said the provincial budget is not predicted to have a big impact on Calgary’s operating budget but the capital budget will be a different story.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said on Friday the provincial budget will mean bad news for Alberta’s two biggest cities, warning of increased costs, increased fees and increased property taxes.
“They (the province) are essentially making the municipalities do their dirty work for them,” she said. “But at the end of the day, there’s only one taxpayer. Taxpayers were promised no new taxes and in fact, fewer taxes, by Jason Kenney.
“What they are going to get now is more taxes. They will be paying more in order to fund a $4.7-billion corporate handout.”
On Friday, Finance Minister Travis Toews said that Alberta is still committed to working with the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton on transit projects despite concerns about the future of the Green Line.
“Both LRT projects in both cities are still in our capital plan,” he said in Calgary on Friday. “We will move them back a couple of years so that we can more adequately match cashflow with the projects in front of us.”
Nenshi says city councillors will be addressing the impacts of the provincial budget at Monday’s council meeting.