New notice of motion to help Calgary business owners to be debated Monday
Calgary city councillors will debate a new solution to ease the tax crisis local businesses are facing on Monday.
Ward 1 Councillor Ward Sutherland is one of ten councillors that support the notice of motion, which calls for $130 million in aid for non-residential property taxpayers.
“It’s $60 million immediate permanent cuts on our operating budget, plus the $70 million we have already put aside [and] equals $130 million,” Sutherland explained to Global News. “What that does to a business owner is a minus 10 per cent capped — that is the worst they are going to have to pay.”
Sutherland goes further, blaming Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi for a lack of leadership in a crisis that has been building for years.
“He doesn’t agree with the cuts, he thinks it’s a mistake. In fact, he sent me a text saying it was big mistake,” Sutherland said. “I think this is a long term problem that has occurred. It’s not just one single council. It’s been a lack of his leadership to get council to move this forward and a lack of priority.”
The plan differs from one that 14 council members agreed to bring to council last week.
Sutherland warns the cuts will be immediate and deep.
“I think its immediate, meaningful impact,” he said. “It will cut services, people will lose their jobs, it’s going to be difficult. But we need to do it in these times right now and we also need the courage to do it and move forward.”
The motion also calls on the city to meet with the province and find a long term solution by November.
The energy crisis created a tax shift problem that saw downtown offices lose $14 billion in value and cost the city $250 million in taxes.
Businesses outside the core had been saddled with huge increases in their tax bills.
Sutherland says it will take new tax laws to fix the problem.
“The real issue here is assessment reform,” he said. “The tax shift from downtown to outside is because of the formulas and their laws and we don’t have the ability to change that. ”
He says Calgary is far from alone in calling for change.
“All the municipalities are asking for assessment reform,” Sutherland said. “We would love to work together to change some of the laws to make them more flexible so we can deal with some of these issues.”
The motion will be debated Monday at 7:30 a.m. as council makes room for the tax crisis at a strategic meeting, even as small business owners vow to rally for change at the meeting.
Sutherland hopes they will find the answer they want after council debates the notice of motion.
“It’s a temporary fix,” he said. “I hope business will be pleased with this. But more importantly, in November, we have to have a long term solution.”