Thank you for taking an interest in Council's 2023 budget deliberations.
Here is what is on my mind as I prepare:
2023 has been a particularly tough year for everyone with general inflation stretching household budgets across the country. When you add in our localized accelerated increases to the costs of housing and utilities in particular, I know there are a lot of Calgarians struggling to keep pace with the financial burdens being placed upon them. Vibrant Communities Calgary just published a report that pegged the 2023 living wage at $23.70/hr. This is 58% higher than Alberta’s minimum wage. There are around 40,000 Calgarian households facing poverty and houselessness. That adds up to about 115,000 Calgarians.
I want you to know that I carry this pressing reality with me into budget deliberations this year and promise not to turn a blind eye to the very real pressures facing Ward 12 and all Calgarians.
As has been reported, Administration is bringing forward a budget adjustment that recommends a 7.8% tax increase this year. The timing is terrible and begs a lot of questions. I don’t blame you for reaching out to share your concerns. They are valid and I promise to carry your concerns into the deliberations this year.
My posture heading into deliberations this year will focus on a balance of long-term thinking that prioritizes investing in issues such as housing and other similar issues, balanced by the immediate need to address the fact that there are literally a hundred thousand Calgarians who could experience poverty this year without intervention.
Compounding the issue is that The City has not been keeping pace with the Consumer Price Index and the costs of growth. From 2019-2023 Calgary had the lowest average increase in property tax of all major Canadian cities. The difficult financial realities facing The City, Council and all Calgarians are real.
Beyond the adjustments, Council is also being encouraged to consider a 1% tax share shift (slides 19-28) from the non-residential to the residential properties. Calgarians have been through a very long stretch of watching their taxes rise without seeing a commensurate increase in the service levels provided by The City. Quite the opposite really. I outline the reasons behind this is my 2023-26 four-year budget wrap up blog under “The Foundation” section. The short of it is Calgary has been reckoning with a new financial reality after the hollowing out of our downtown that necessitated a tax shift starting in early 2001.
Adding insult to injury this year has been the LAF calculation in Calgary as it is connected to the variable Regulated Rate Option. You can find my thoughts on the LAF here.
Please don’t hesitate to continue the conversation with me and my office ([email protected]) as we approach the 2023 budget deliberations.
Cllr, Ward 12