11/25/2013 07:04 EST

Calgary Property Tax Increase Debated; Nenshi Proposes Salary And Savings Freeze


Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi suggested freezing some city hall salaries to reduce a proposed property tax increase, but most councillors, instead, want to use the city's $52 million tax surplus towards property taxes, which would eliminate a hike.

As council debates the city's 2014 budget, a 6.1 per cent property tax hike is being considered.

Nenshi proposed putting some councillors and staff on a salary freeze , along with finding $17 million in savings, to bring the tax increase down to 4.9 per cent, CBC reports.

"It's a $3-billion budget so if we can't find $17 million in efficiencies then that's a problem. And as you know, every year I try to call at the end of the budget for a little across-the-board reduction and I usually lose, but I think that those are good to actually push efficiency," he said.

The majority of councillors want to see a tax freeze, or even a tax cut instead, by scrapping Calgary's $52-million tax surplus. That would get rid of the proposed 6.1 per cent hike and mean an approximately one per cent reduction on next year's bill, according to the Calgary Herald. It would also lower property tax increases for business to 4.5 per cent.

Nenshi recommended the money be used to help pay for flood related repairs. In a memo to councillors, Nenshi said it is "dishonest" to tell citizens that $52 million is being returned to them, and at the same time inform them of a $70 million increase in fees in flood recovery costs.

Nine out of 14 councillors want to return the $52-million tax surplus, according to the Calgary Herald.

Other proposed options included councillor Andre Chabot's suggestion of using the money to reduce the property tax increase to one per cent, Global News reports.

City councillors announced in April that there would be an extra $52 million in the budget due to a discrepancy in taxes. The city has since debated how to use the money, and has also solicited feedback from Calgarians.

With files from The Canadian Press

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