Nelson: Fourth time’s the charm for city’s battered taxpayers

Every four years, Calgary taxpayers finally get a break when council keeps tax increases low because a civic election is on the horizon.

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No one likes getting slapped twice in the face, but it’s better than getting a third slap on a rapidly reddening cheek.

Unfortunately, Calgarians are not even allowed that respite. We’ve just received the third slap in the face, courtesy of the massive rate increases approved by the increasingly deaf people who populate city hall.

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This latest insult dates back to a 2013 provincial decision, when the civic election calendar was changed so that an elected mayor and 14 councilors served four-year terms, instead of the usual three.

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But why did that decision result in more pain for taxpayers? Because (surprise, surprise) at budget time there is a huge difference in the city council when those numbers are analyzed before an election year. Suddenly, prudence appears, after most citizens and businesses assumed it was gone forever.

Therefore, getting one pardon out of three is obviously preferable to being slapped three times in a row with unconscionable demands on our hard-earned money, before finally taking a breather in that fourth round, when the council finally puts future self-interest first. . of meekly succumbing to a municipal administration addicted to plundering our pockets.

The mayor is already laying the groundwork for a relatively painless looting of our collective accounts 12 months from now, ahead of the 2025 civic elections. She told us as much in her end-of-year interview.

“Our goal was to really make a tough decision this year and create a base budget that really funds things adequately,” Jyoti Gondek said.

“Those are the major investments we made and they’re now in the budget, so we’re not going to do this process every year.”

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There you have it: Next time, this budget process will lead to an election year, so rest assured, we’re not going to scold you, because we want your vote. (Of course, you have to read the verbiage that all politicians use when they try to stifle true meaning, managing to cover the truth with the same attention to detail that the rest of us use to cover our fries in ketchup.)

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek. Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

Will we buy this nonsense? When fall 2025 rolls around and those election signs start appearing, will Calgarians forget what January 2024 brought them in the form of tax increases from a council that waxes lyrical about the need for affordable housing but makes it difficult to possession of any type of property? Our city is similar to riding bulls: just hold on for dear life.

It seems no one is safe from this year’s looting.

Homeowners are hit with an average 7.8 percent increase, hotels receive a 23 percent increase, airports receive a 9 percent increase, while condo owners are warned to face the most unpleasant surprise of all, because that category of property has seen the biggest jump in assessed values.

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Small business owners are likely still in a fetal position after the abuse they have suffered at the hands of the city over the past five years.

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This seemingly endless money grab had its origins in 2015, when downtown Calgary’s international oil companies returned to wherever they had come from, courtesy of a drop in the price of crude oil and a burgeoning environmental movement that had Alberta’s tar sands in its sights. its power. monuments.

Those teams were squeezed by the city for years, but to them it was nonsense. It wasn’t for the rest of us, not when we figured out who would cover that huge financial gap.

Couldn’t the city have economized: maybe suspended some projects or frozen some plans and shown a little restraint?

No way. By then they had serious social divisions to repair; environmental, racial, gender and inequality barricades to assault. It was not the time to hold back: far from it.

At least not until the election year arrives: every four years. Write this down on your calendar.

Chris Nelson is a regular columnist for the Herald.

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