4. Transforming Taxation, Connecting Revenue with Expenses


The second pillar of my Great Neighbourhoods platform is:

4. Building a city that pays for itself: Transforming taxation, connecting revenue with expenses

I believe that we must build a city that pays for itself. To do that, we must transform taxation and connect revenue with expenses.

My goal is a city where we acknowledge that:

  • New growth can be either good or bad, economic or uneconomic, sustainable or unsustainable, and that it depends entirely on the kind of growth that we allow.

  • A city where basic, universal necessities are provided on an ability to pay basis, while individual lifestyle choices are enjoyed on a user-pay basis.

  • A city where unsustainable subsidies for some lifestyle choices and undesirable disincentives for others are eliminated.

  • A city where the revenues we collect and the expenses we choose to undertake are transparently connected.

  • A city committed to the elimination of tremendous collective liabilities like poverty and automobile-dependency.

  • A city where arguments against policies that pit have- versus have-not communities fade into the dustbin of history as our commitment to Complete Communities (see Pillar #1) ensures a healthy mix of diversity in every neighbourhood.

Our success towards these goals are starting to be counted as this City Council challenged business-as-usual and established a healthy culture of fiscal prudence in the context of total cost accounting-based decision-making. This has been demonstrated in:

  • Ending the Sprawl Subsidy and on a move-forward basis considering the financial implications of growth as a fundamental component of planning merit through Growth Management, which addresses new growth, and NextCITY, which enables the intensification of already-developed areas.

  • Taking our tax revenues that have for decades subsidized growth on our City’s edge and making substantial reinvestments in Ward 9 neighbourhoods. Examples of this include: The GreenLine; the SE17 Transitway; the North, South Crosstown and the 52nd Street East BRTs; the Mainstreets Program; extensive infrastructure upgrades in bridges, roads, interchanges, and wastewater systems; and, extensive park and river-parkland reinvestment.

  • Responding to the downturn by freezing property tax mill-rate increases, developing a criteria-based formula of inflation plus growth for all future increases, and increasingly earmarking taxes for specific, measurable programs.

  • Striking a balance between  reducing the debt that previous City Councils have loaded onto our public utilities with a commitment to keeping rates and rate increases as low as possible.

  • Relentlessly engaging in the ongoing battle to ensure that a larger share of the taxes that we pay stay in Calgary in the service of Calgarians.

  • Balancing the complementary  measures  of eliminating municipal waste on the one hand and improving municipal effectiveness on the other, from Cut Red Tape, through departmental Zero-Based Departmental  Reviews, the re-establishment of an independent and healthy audit function, to the comprehensive reorganization of our municipal workforce.

It is critical that we do not allow special interests who have profited from the hidden subsidies that we’re eliminating overturn our progress.  It is also important that we take these steps with the intention of leaping into a much better, more effective and more sustainable government. If you agree, please vote for me on October 16.

Thanks for your support,


Gian-Carlo Carra