Public begins giving input in Calgary city budget debate

Amid a protracted economic downturn and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic Calgary city council is deliberating where and how to make budget adjustments in the middle of the city’s four-year budget cycle.

And they’re starting with listening to Calgarians.

Read more: Calgarians could see lower municipal taxes in 2021

About 70 people signed up to provide presentations over the phone to council on Monday.

On Nov. 9, city officials provided council with a recommended package of adjustments. Administration found $90 million in savings for the city through base budget efficiencies and SAVE program ideas.

Read more: Calgarians’ satisfaction in city declines further amid COVID-19 pandemic: survey

Story continues below advertisement

That would result in a zero rate increase for residential properties and an overall decrease of non-residential property taxes of 0.55 per cent.

But because of the sub-categories of properties, different taxpayers will face different changes.

Click to play video 'Mayor Nenshi talks about the 2021 budget' Mayor Nenshi talks about the 2021 budget

Mayor Nenshi talks about the 2021 budget

Single-family homes could see that zero per cent change in municipal taxes. But because of increased assessment value, high-rise multi-residential buildings could see more than a 12 per cent rate increase.

Similarly with non-residential, the pandemic’s hit on travel also hit hotel values, with those properties seeing an average of 31.2 per cent reduction in value, resulting in a possible 27 per cent drop in municipal taxes.

Read more: Calgary Police Commission proposes $40-million police budget adjustment

Story continues below advertisement

Large-format industrial warehouses saw an average double-digit increase in value, and could face a more than 20 per cent increase in municipal taxes.

Also at issue is changes to the Calgary Police Service’s budget.

On Nov. 6, the Calgary Police Commission published its budget submissions to council, recommending a $40-million reduction in their budget — $20 million the service would absorb in COVID-19-related impacts, $10 million to eliminate 60 positions that were planned to be created in 2021, and $10 million that will be relocated to explore “alternative call response models.”

That last item would have $8 million of CPS budget “to working with partners to explore models of system integration involving health, social services, justice and police.”

Read more: New members take Calgary Police Commission in anti-racism direction

Story continues below advertisement

In early September, CPS chief Mark Neufeld, alongside commission chair Bonita Croft, said police officers “may not be the best responders for various types of calls involving mental health and addictions,” committing to reallocating funds from the CPS budget.

Click to play video 'Calgary firefighter union calls recommendation to close downtown fire hall ‘a disaster in the making’' Calgary firefighter union calls recommendation to close downtown fire hall ‘a disaster in the making’

Calgary firefighter union calls recommendation to close downtown fire hall ‘a disaster in the making’ – Oct 31, 2020

On Nov. 3, council passed a notice of motion to have administration bring forward data to explore two $10-million budget reallocations in the 2021 and 2022 budget years.

Each city department will be able to address council regarding adjustments after public submissions, with CPS expected to present on Wednesday morning.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source