Calgary’s city council recently passed its four-year budget, with a vote of nine in favor, five in opposition.
Councillor Peter Demong opposed the budget, saying that he couldn’t back it without the council getting a concrete idea on what programs and services they should be focusing on.
Part of the voting was regarding the motion of a 3.45% property tax hike in 2019, which went forward.
According to Mayor Naheed Nenshi, that increase amounts to about $5 every month for the average Calgary household, but the added funds would allow the city to improve and keep the streets safe and clean; hiring new public bus drivers, police officers, and the like.
Nenshi says that the council looked at the services that are being delivered and what the citizens of the city demand, and, for a mere five dollars, which he says is less than what the average house pays on cell phones, Calgary will get a lot.
During the final day to iron out all the details for the four-year budget, Nenshi presented his omnibus motion for capital funding for a variety of projects for the city, including calling on roofing in Calgary for fixes, upgrades to the city’s arenas, and the construction of new bike lanes and train cars, among others.
His proposal was to spend $43 million in capital funding, unallocated, over four years, was voted on, passing with a vote of eight to six.
Nenshi states that the target of the funds are small, but would greatly impact the quality of life in Calgary. Specifically, his funding request included:
- $17.5m for the purchase of three new train cars for the LRT, bumping up an existing order to 15 for a discount;
- $7.5m for urban forestry;
- $6.5m for community association and social recreation group support; calling on roofing in Calgary for work, among others;
- $6m for parks projects;
- $5.5m for streets and pathways, like the Barley Belt’s pathway, and;
- Other funding for the maintenance of recreational facilities in Calgary.
Coun. George Chahal, during the meeting, implored the administration to study their funding and financials in order to streamline itself so that residential and non-residential tax rates can be lowered; he feels that they can’t wait to deal with the issue or kick the can down the road, as business owners and families across Calgary are hurting and they need to streamline or trim the budget.