As debate starts at City Hall on a proposed four-year budget plan, some Calgarians worry the added costs will leave them behind.
Calgary leads the nation in economic growth, salaries and population increases, and now the city’s budget calls for big hikes in taxes and fees to pay for it all.
Troy Johnson spent his adult life providing for those in need, but the likely tax increases leave him wondering who will look out for him.
“Us folks in the front line working with disabled folks in Calgary, due to government cutbacks on funding and what not, (mean) every penny is super important for us,” said Johnson.
“We just have to really put a lot of work into our budgeting, and make sure we can make it through every week and every month.”
Budget plans include a 4.7 per cent tax increase for each of the next four years.
They also call for significant increases in utilities, including water and waste/recycling fees.
By the end of 2018, the average homeowner will have paid an additional $900 to the city.
However on Monday, councillors claimed it’s a tight, no-frills budget.
“It’s been a part of the conversation that we’ve had on council throughout this whole process, how do we keep the taxes as low as we possibly can while also maintaining some services for those same Calgarians who need them?” said Evan Woolley, councillor for Ward 8.
Calgarians could also pay more for annual transit passes. Tammy Poirier appeared before city council on Monday calling for a freeze on low-income passes.
“Right now with the rent and food increase, it’s going to be impossible for me to be able to afford my bus pass and to get around,” said Poirier.
Disability Action Hall said projected increases may be small, but to many struggling below the poverty line, it could mean staying home and doing without.
“We want to see those low-income transit passes frozen until September 2015 when the data is there to actually make an educated decision on financial impact,” said Colleen Huston with Disability Action Hall.
Huston said it does not make sense to add more buses to transit lines if they will just be passing by poor people, leaving them behind.
The city has set aside two weeks for the budget debate.