Complaining loudly about crushing tax hikes appears to have paid off for owners of small businesses in Calgary after moves by city hall that will see a 10-per-cent cut in non-residential property taxes this year.
Council voted unanimously during an emergency meeting Monday to slash $60-million from its budget and pull nearly $71-million from its reserves for tax rebates.
The vote followed a rally outside city hall Monday morning during which hundreds of disgruntled business owners said they are facing massive tax hikes that could force a number of them to close their doors.
Some even called for Mayor Naheed Nenshi to resign over the increases.
City managers told councillors the budget cuts can be found but warned they will affect front-line services in every department, from planning to policing.
Taxes are due July 1 and Councillor Evan Woolley says the city will move quickly to get rebates out to businesses.
Franco Terrazzano of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the city needs to act more like businesses when it comes to trimming costs.
“Calgary households and businesses have been making tough decisions for years,” Mr. Terrazzano said. “They were forced to tighten their belts during the downturn and city council has been largely unwilling to tighten their belts.”
Business owner Kelly Doody said while she welcomes the cut, it’s not really helpful for those who have faced tax hikes as high as 200 per cent in recent years.
“That has to be righted,” said Ms. Doody, who believes business owners will continue to push for tax reform at both the civic and provincial level.
“I don’t think any of us assume that the fight is over. That would be really naive.”
It’s expected Mr. Nenshi will send a letter to the provincial government seeking reforms to property assessment and taxation.
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