CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Calgary City Council is facing some tough decisions after the provincial budget was announced.
The future of the Green Line LRT remains clouded in mystery, with funding from Alberta being cut by over 80 per cent the city needs to figure out if timelines need to be changed, or if the whole project should be put on hold.
The province is putting in $75-million over the next four years instead of an original commitment of $555-million in the hopes they can stretch the funding out longer.
“A lot of people would dispute that, that’s the right way forward to wait and we will have to look at a lot of different scenarios,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, adding in a worst-case scenario that could include whether or not they can do it at all.
Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating says it sets up an unrealistic situation.
“In the last four years, the provincial government has to come up with almost $400-million a year for four years to be able to pay for that,” he explained, adding the bottom line is they can’t put more strain on Calgary taxpayers. “You just can’t place that on the shoulders of Calgarians and unless things change than I have great difficulty seeing this project move forward.”
The Alberta budget is also going to have some impacts on property tax bills and revenues for Calgary police.
First off, due to an increase in education property tax, which provides the education system with more cash, there will be millions of dollars more sought from taxpayers. So even though the budget freezes property tax rates, an increase in the assessment base means taxpayers will be paying over $4 more per month on the average home, starting next year.
Meantime, the province will not provide police with any cannabis revenue to assist with enforcement, while the province will also take in more revenue from fines, which will reduce Calgary Police revenues by $10-million per year. There will also be reduced funding for DNA testing.