As annual budgets are being approved across municipalities, each one includes a percentage of the tax increase to residents.
The City of Calgary recently announced a 7.8 per cent property tax increase for homeowners, while the Town of Cochrane accepted a proposed budget calling for a 3.85 per cent tax increase.
The tax increase percentage was not included in Airdrie’s announcement of their approved 2024 budget this year as they attempted to communicate the budget impact in a different way.
For some this may make more sense, but others made it clear this missed the mark.
In Airdrie, all we know is that the increase will generate $5.2 million more than last year with an impact of $146.91 annually for the average household.
The approved 2024 budget document isn’t yet publicly available, making it difficult for residents to do the math on their own.
We know the net tax revenue of 2023 added up to $75,300,760 in the 2023 approved budget, but we don’t know what the net tax revenue is in the 2024 approved budget.
The City told Airdrie City View that they find communicating tax increases as a percentage leads to residents misinterpreting what the impact will be to them.
This is why they simply laid out the monthly and annual increases for the average home this year, instead of the percentage.
While it’s helpful to see how the tax increase will impact everyone’s bills, several residents reached out or made comments about the lack of clarity.
Without knowing the budget increase percentage, it’s difficult for residents to compare the increase year to year or have any clue about the City's spending habits.
Earlier in November, City administration recommended a budget with a 9.7 per cent tax increase, which also included further information of a $203 annual impact to the average household.
Again, some residents voiced their concern about what they felt was a “preposterous” tax hike.
Without the final approved percentage, it is unclear how the City addressed concerns from residents.
A breakdown of how residents will be impacted was a great step forward in transparency, but not including the percentage may be confusing and simultaneously be a step back in transparency.