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Calgary business owner worried about looming property tax hike

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WATCH: Calgary business owner are bracing for huge tax hikes following double-digit increases in instalment payments. Tomasia DaSilva reports.

Some Calgary business owners are anxiously awaiting their property tax bills after their monthly tax installment payments rose — in some cases double digits.

Clint Nickolas owns Diversified Machine Works in Foothills Industrial Park. He said he was shocked to see his property tax installment payment go up by more than $1,200 a month in January. By his calculations, this will result in a tax bill of about $70,000 in 2020 — despite his assessment going down about $198,000.

“Twenty-seven per cent increase,” Nickolas said. “I thought it was ridiculous, to be honest.”

WATCH: Spike in property tax bills shocks Calgary business owners

Nickolas said he pays his property taxes through the City of Calgary Tax Instalment Payment Plan.

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It allows people to pay monthly instead of one lump sum in June. Payment levels can be adjusted during the year, depending on the tax rate set by council in the spring.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi reiterated the TIPP program is just an estimate.

“It’s important to remember that no one has their tax bills yet,” Nenshi said.

He said the final numbers could change but admitted some Calgary businesses could end up paying more in property taxes than they did in 2019.

“Remember that last year there was a one-time rebate,” he said. “So although business taxes have been cut this year, the rebate is also gone.”

Nickolas, who bought the building in May 2019, said he has already had two hikes since then. He doesn’t know how much more he can take.

“It’s very frustrating. When are the tax hikes going to stop or slow down? Or even be reasonable?” he said.

Nenshi told Global News there is still a chance council could approve another rebate for small businesses.

“I suspect that council will have a conversation at our next [priorities and finance committee] meeting in a couple of weeks, whether or not we want to spend some more money on another final, final one-time rebate to ease people into the transition to the new normal,” Nenshi said.
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READ MORE: Calgary mayor predicts property taxes will go up as result of Alberta provincial budget downloading

Nickolas said he can’t pass on hikes in the range of 27 per cent to his customers, who are mostly oil and gas companies, because then he wouldn’t have any work. He has also cut his staff from 30 employees to 14. He said he has cut back on his spending costs, and is now asking the city to check its spending as well.

“Everyone understands that we got to pay our share of taxes,” he said. “But when everything keeps going up in extravagant amounts — I mean, where do you come up with that money?”

Nikolas said if the city does not act, it could be faced with the same situation the core faces.

“It could turn into what downtown is: a ghost town,” Nickolas said.