News / Calgary

Green Line costs weigh heavy on Calgary council tax room debate

Taxpayers getting rebate back for election year taxes, but not in perpetuity

Council voted to keep the $23.7 million left by the province for the long term, but give it back in the short term.

Metro File

Council voted to keep the $23.7 million left by the province for the long term, but give it back in the short term.

There was a big green elephant in the room as council discussed how to handle $23.7 million left on the table by the provincial government Monday night.

Ultimately, they decided to give the money back to voters this year, while keeping the option open for the new council coming in after the fall election to use it later.

City manager Jeff Fielding took the council in camera for a ‘quick’ discussion about the city’s upcoming finances and specifically the Green Line.

An hour-and-a-half later, council came out with a plan to set aside the $23.7 million for now in a budget savings account.

Councillor Shane Keating then made it clear that although they weren’t voting on it today, the money would almost certainly go towards Green Line costs, once city administration comes out with the overall plan for the project later this spring.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said council will face a big decision in the next few months on whether to take the on-ramp or the off-ramp for the project.

“If you chose to stay on with this project – you’re gonna need this money,” said the mayor. “We were made aware today that the financing costs of such a large project are considerably larger than most people in the room imagined.”

He also said the money set aside by the feds does not address financing costs.

Councillor Sean Chu made a motion to give taxpayers back the money as a one-time rebate this year, which passed 11-2. The rebate is about $7 for the average household.

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