Municipal Property Tax Bills 101


PROPERTY TAX


Property tax rate calculation

Each year City Council approves the budget needed to support City services. To get the amount of revenues required from property taxes, The City takes the overall expenditure and subtracts all other sources of revenue such as licence fees, permits, user fees, and provincial grants. The balance is the amount to be raised through municipal property taxes.

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Councillor Spencer on the 2021 Budget Surplus

Council recently had the opportunity to review the audited financial statements for The City. This is an annual process that requires Council to approve the statements — before they are submitted to the Province — which oversees all municipalities. These financial statements were for the 2021 fiscal year, and therefore not directly connected to decisions made by this Council, as their term began in October.

We were informed that The City is carrying a non-budgeted surplus from business activities in 2021 to the tune of approximately $147 million. The sources of these additional funds include investment income, property taxes due to a greater number of homes constructed, Enmax earnings due to higher resource prices, sale of land and assets, as well as savings through operating efficiencies. It is important to note that achieving a surplus isn’t an anomaly.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) in the Province of Alberta does not allow municipalities to run a budget deficit. This forces cities like Calgary to budget with an allowance for surplus, to prevent the possibility of a deficit position. Part of what surpluses are allocated to are several reserve funds that allow The City to respond to major events or opportunities to fund concerns outside of the normal budget process. These include events such as the 2013 flood, 2020 pandemic funding, and initiatives like the Calgary Transit security boost provided in early 2022.

In terms of our current 2022 tax year, this Council passed budget adjustments last fall without the final 2021 figures being made available to them. There was no information presented that inferred there would be a budgetary surplus from the previous year that would allow new spending, without a tax increase. I am making inquiries as to whether this is common practice or if there is a mechanism to provide more recent information regarding current budget positions. It is certainly frustrating to learn there were funds available at the same time we were approving important budget adjustments and a corresponding tax increase.

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Councillor Spencer’s First 100 Days and Top 5 Priorities for Ward 12

Thank you for finding your way to this post reflecting on my first 100 days as the Councillor for Ward 12. My office team and I are pleased to report on the work that has been done with the new City Council — and even more excited about the work ahead of us. While the adjustment has been intense, I am enjoying the challenge and the opportunities every day presents to serve Ward 12 and all Calgarians.

You may recall, I campaigned with a 100 Day plan, focusing on five specific priorities gleaned from what I heard from you at the doors and in the community. What you will find below is an update around those priorities and the actions we have been able to take thus far. Influencing these priorities has been a considerable learning process and requires establishing strong relationships. All five priorities are large and multifaceted and will continue to be priorities over the full four-year term. 

On a personal note, my wife and children have been gracious and accommodating with the changing routines and for that I am extremely grateful. We have reclaimed our weekend getaways to the mountains and thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas break with the time it provided for much-needed rest and relaxation.  

 

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Initiative #7: Champion Mental Health

There is no denying that we are in a mental health crisis. As the realities of the economic downturn and the pandemic continue to unfold, mental exhaustion will reveal itself more and more. We cannot sit idly by and watch people suffer and unravel. Building communities of care in our Ward 12 neighbourhoods will be vital to a comprehensive response. Here are three action points that will be important to me as your Councillor:

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Initiative #6: Ward 12 Deserves Diversity & Inclusion

Promoting a learning culture by actively listening to our neighbours in Ward 12’s communities creates commonality where we can learn about and understand our unconscious biases and how to overcome them. Diversified communities encourage residents to interact respectfully and provide accessible and inclusive services to ensure quality of life is better for everyone who lives, plays, and works in them. For Ward 12 this includes, but is not limited to, our neighbours who are:

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Resource Guide & Statement About National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Government of Canada recently passed legislation to make September 30th a federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day provides opportunity for public servants to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.

While the Government of Alberta, disappointingly, chose not to recognize this new statutory holiday and its important purpose and meaning, the City of Calgary has and so have our public and separate school boards.

Not everyone will have the opportunity to take this day off to reflect and honour, but I hope everyone does take time to consider what it means to be a great neighbour, to help foster thriving neighbourhoods, to know the true history of Canada, and to understand the legacy of grief and pain many of our Indigenous neighbours carry with them. We all have a responsibility in a caring society to ensure every neighbour feels safe, secure, seen and included. 

For our Indigenous neighbours, this means listening and bearing witness to their stories while laying the burden of learning at our own feet. There are hundreds of resources available to become informed and educated about residential schools, stories, the history of colonization, and the 94 Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. Please use this list as a starting point:

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Initiative #5: Ward 12 Deserves Activated Calgarians

One of top five priorities of my platform is to Activate Calgarians. I want to give you the tools you need to spearhead meaningful change in your community, and I want to repair the disconnect we feel between City Hall and us as residents. Let’s make progress simple and more attainable. 

Calgarians are right to be frustrated when they have to use an impersonal service to deal with personal needs. I’m going to change that. I'm going to empower Calgarians through local Community Associations, encourage and facilitate volunteer opportunities, provide funding for community initiatives, modify redundant by-laws and invest better resources into 311 so you can get the answers you need faster. 

We shouldn’t have to rely on The City of Calgary to solve every problem that we can easily work out ourselves. That’s not efficient. That is not activating Calgarians. Often we hear, “that’s just the way things are,” and this is something we need to challenge. We should be afforded the ability to be a part of our own solutions. We can’t afford to wait for a system that is already overloaded, overworked, and spread dangerously thin. Lack of transparency, overspending, tax hikes, inconsistent regulations, financial scandals, or and infighting between City Business Units have caused undue uncertainty and frustration. Solutions can be simple, attainable, and expedient. 

As I have laid out in my Value for Tax blog, Calgary is still finding its new equilibrium after our economic downturn caused by the drop in oil prices and the ongoing pandemic. The City of Calgary is a service organization that seeks to run like a business. This is an admirable and important aim but The City is more than just a goods and services provider. Calgarians are more than just consumers of these goods and services. We are ALL in this together anad Calgary needs to rethink how it empowers local Calgarians. Bureaucratic hurdles and roadblocks need to be relaxed, not tightened.

It is time to activate Calgarians to be part of the build-back strategy, with Ward 12 leading the way to demonstrate what is possible!

Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Activate Calgarians

               

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Initiative #4: Ward 12 Deserves Safe Community

Community is a cornerstone motivation behind everything I do. It is also one of the distinctive draws for living in the suburbs of Ward 12 — the enhanced sense of community and the corresponding sense of safety and security. We all want to feel connected and surrounded by a community that is actively looking out for us, our loved ones, and our employees and co-workers.

When this sense of safety and security is violated by a home invasion, traffic incident, prowling, fire, or any other type of safety issue in our neighbourhood, it can easily shatter our confidence. Building that trust back can take months if not years and unfortunately it can forever change how we think about our neighbours and neighbourhood when unaddressed.

Protecting our sense of community and our collective safety is of utmost importance and will be an ever-present priority for me, as your Councillor. This issue is multifaceted and deserves a multifaceted approach. Nearly 25% of every tax dollar goes to Bylaw & Public Safety and 14.36% for our Police Service. Proper funding for enforcement is extremely important but it cannot provide community safety on its own.

Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Community Safety in Ward12:

                  

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TPA and PAC Funding Not Needed by Ward 12 Councillor Candidate Evan Spencer

Calgary, AB, September 27, 2021 Evan Spencer is running for councillor in Ward 12. Spencer is the non-partisan candidate with cross-partisan popularity setting him apart from other candidates in the ward. His forward-thinking, inclusive approach to municipal governance is resonating with many. Collaborating with others to champion local initiatives that create a thriving ward and city, for the betterment of all citizens, is what drives Spencer. His bootstrapped campaign is laser-focused on what elected municipal officials can influence through positive advocacy.

Spencer was one of the first municipal candidates in Alberta to sign the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Pledge a voluntary candidate commitment to support democratic municipal elections by keeping local elections local, maintaining independence and non-partisanship, demonstrating transparency, and engaging in respectful behaviour. To date, Spencer is the only Ward 12 candidate to make this commitment.

 

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Initiative #3: Ward 12 Deserves A Strong Economic Recovery

Its impact is nearly universal and actively limits options and opportunities for Ward 12 and The City of Calgary — economic recovery is a massive priority.

We can no longer rely on downtown revenue to cover most of our budget. It’s time to attract new investment, diversity into new sectors, and remove bureaucracy that is slowing down progress.

Working alongside organizations like Calgary Economic Development, Calgary’s elected officials can aid or detract from selling our City and way of life. It takes strong collaborative leadership to put our best foot forward and it also requires teachable servant leadership. I have a track record of connecting with people and also giving them room to make their contributions. Effective leadership creates a wave of team buy-in and I look forward to bringing this focus on what local business leaders want, not what I want, to City Hall. 

Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Help the Local Economy Recover:

            

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Initiative #2: Ward 12 Deserves Value for Tax Dollars: Asset Management, Improve Economy, Spend Smarter


I am prioritizing this Value for Tax Dollars platform as an immediate priority in my first 100 days as your new Councillor. It is time to spend smarter and rethink how we use our tax dollars. It will be incumbent upon the new council to do the hard work of pushing for the savings that Calgarians are demanding while making wise investments for the future. 

Not feeling like you are getting value for the taxes you are paying to The City? You are not alone. For the past 10 years, we have watched our property taxes steadily increase and now our City services are visibly on the decline — our confidence declining in tandem. I will work hard as your Councillor to ensure residents of Ward 12 get the highest possible value for their tax dollars. 

Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Improve Value for Your Tax Dollars & Manage Assets Better

 

                  

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Initiative #1: Ward 12 Is Promised A Green Line (Again). We Can’t Afford To Wait.

I am prioritizing this Green Line platform as an immediate priority in my first 100 days as your new Councillor. The Green Line is one of our best tools for immediate economic recovery and, with potentially 9 new council members taking seats in City Council, it will need a leader who already understands the history, opportunity and potential to continue defending and championing it. Ward 12 residents and business need someone who will waste no time keeping the plans going. 

Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Keep Green Line on its Tracks

 

                  

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Meet Evan Spencer, Calgary Councillor Candidate for Ward 12

 

These are trying times — economically, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Calgarians simply cannot afford an extended learning curve or discord among a mostly new City Council. Evan Spencer is ready to step into the role of Ward 12 councillor today. His leadership experience, hands-on City of Calgary knowledge, and community perspective make him Ward 12’s best choice for Councillor.

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Evan Knows | Small Infrastructure Is The Next Wave for Ward 12

Our infrastructure in Ward 12 is top notch! We have stellar facilities such as Seton YMCA and Calgary Public Library, South Health Campus, New Brighton Athletic Park, Resident and Homeowners Association buildings and amenities, proximity to major traffic arteries — the list goes on. We have a lot to enjoy. More can be done to ensure Ward 12 improves its livability year after year... but it will be hard to make a business case for big infrastructure projects. So, that means spending smarter going forward. 

Keeping committed infrastructure costs on track will be a priority for me as your Ward 12 councillor. We know that delaying projects, as seen in the Green Line history, costs epic overruns which trickle down to you. We cannot have that anymore. Decisive commitment keeps costs lower now than they will be in the future on already engaged projects. However, this does not mean there won't be requirements to spend or money to do so... we must spend smarter and constituents have multiple small spend projects in mind that will be important over the next few years.

 

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Evan Knows | Urban Canopy for Climate and Improving Livability

I am pleasantly surprised by how many people in Ward 12 have our trees or “urban canopy” as a priority. The comments range from the lack of care and watering to a strong desire to see more trees planted.

The City has been finding places to cut the budget and our trees have taken on some of that impact. For example, The City used to be more involved in paying for injections for our Elm trees that are fighting a common condition called European Elm scale. Elms can get a tiny parasite that feed on the sap of a tree and also rain down tiny droplets of the sap that can coat cars, sidewalks and even you when you are out for a walk. The treatments cost $150-200 dollars and that has some residents feeling abandoned if they are on a corner lot with 6-8 of these trees right around them.

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Evan Knows | Thriving Neighbourhoods Solutions to Youth Vandalism

As our young communities have grown up have our public spaces kept up? Once youth move past splash pads, swing sets and slides and that age where they take ownership over everything ("mine, mine, mine" is often the refrain), do all of our Ward 12 communities have enough of, and the correct, features and activities to keep them engaged in their spaces and take responsibility for them too?

Our parks and public spaces are such an important and valuable element of thriving neighbourhoods. They are where parents and kids make first friends in their communities. It is where families find deeper value in the places they live. It is where bonds of community are formed. Community bonds can help improve quality of life, attract a healthy housing market, keep people safe, and lower costs when citizen engagement is high.

Unfortunately, when spaces don't grow up with their population, sometimes a sense of ownership and responsibility for those spaces diminish.

 

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Evan Knows | Southeast Odour Mitigation for Calgary Ward 12

While the southeast neighbourhoods of Calgary's Ward 12 have SO much to offer, there are some concerns residents and busiensses would like to address as well. One issue that intermittently drives us mad are the strong odours that can interrupt an otherwise perfect evening on your patio or force your t-shirt over your nose when you are out for a walk.

Yes that is right. The southeast has some unique smells.

Blamed most frequently is the Shepard Landfill but they have been operating under strict procedures for years. The actual problem is that there are likely multiple culprits.

 

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Evan Knows | Thriving Neighbourhoods Solutions to Foxtail Mitigation

Ward 12 has seen pet owners devastated by the impacts of a recently deregulated weed called Foxtail Barley that is spreading rapidly in our southeast communities. Those who are the most impacted have had to pay local vets thousands of dollars for surgery with no guarantee that their beloved pup will recover.

As your City Councillor, I will work alongside The City, local developers, and community groups to address this important issue that is impacting the livability of Ward 12 residents. Short term strategies to head off the propagation of this plant before it goes to seed need to be a joint effort between all stakeholders.

Ultimately, Foxtail needs to be put back on the list of Provincially regulated weeds by bringing forward the appropriate information and impact studies through the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry ([email protected]) or a Notice of Motion needs to be brought forward through City Council for The City to regulate it locally and address the negative impacts this plant is having on so many Calgarians.

 

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Evan Knows | Green Line Funding

Evan Spencer, a former LRT on the Green member and city council staffer, is celebrating great news regarding the Green Line infrastructure. Funds have been released! With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Calgary to announce this news, alongside an elated Councillor Shane Keating and Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Ward 12 residents and Calgarians throughout the City should look forward to 20,000 jobs once the project gets under way and more than 400 permanent jobs. 

Evan has been and advocate and involved committee member for a portion of the 10 year history of this project. He has learned the extensive level of passion, commitment and advocacy it takes with all levels of government, stakeholders, business and residential communities to gain infrastructure buy-in and approvals. With this experience, Evan is prepared to step into the role of councillor on day one! And on day one, Evan is prepared to keep the pressure on to get shovels in the ground to start the Green Line project and then see it through as intended today, and funded to expand. The mission is to avoid costly overruns, costly delays, costly decision-making processes. But for today, we celebrate the first major milestone. Congratulations Ward 12!

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Evan Knows | Getting Tech Funding for Calgary's Ward 12 Businesses

Ward 12 is fortunate to be rich with businesses of every kind and size from unique commercial, warehouse, industrial, not-for-profit businesses, and more in Shepherd Industrial area.

Evan Spencer's mission is to ensure businesses in Ward 12 are aware of, and can access, resources to shift out of pandemic survival into thriving. Evan also wants to ensure new businesses have awareness of resources and opportunities to start and grow.  

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