Thursday, November 12, 2009

City of Calgary's Tax Talk Website Launched

The City of Calgary has launched a new interactive website to help Calgarians understand how their tax dollars are spent on city services.

Calgary.ca/TaxTalk provides an explanation of the 2010 operating budget which was approved by City Council last fall. This fall City Council will consider recommendations to adjust business plans and budgets to ensure the books remain balanced, especially in a recessionary economy where The City’s revenues have declined.

"The site will provide citizens with information about how taxes work in the three levels of Government along with information on what services are offered to citizens with their municipal tax dollars," said Cindy Pickett, The City of Calgary's Customer Service and Communications Director.

Pickett added that Citizens can input their tax amount into an online calculator and see the services that they receive in return for their tax dollars, how much is allocated to those services, along with highlights on the value those services bring to their community.

For example, if you submit your annual property tax amount, say $2,138 - which is the average residential tax bill, the tax calculator shows where that money is being spent by The City. Forty-seven percent which is collected is given to The Province. The remaining 53 per cent ($1,186) goes to city services, and in this case that means that one household pays annually $242 for Police, $71 for parks and $145 for the fire department among other expenditures.

Citizens will also see how their municipal taxes compare to 20 other major cities across the country. For example, the $1,186 Calgary municipal tax bill compares to a bill of $1,501 in Saskatoon, $2,416 in Vancouver and $3,025 in Ottawa.

As you click on the site it delves down further into exact expenditures. It also links to The City’s new Capital website so individuals can see all the projects underway and the costs for various initiatives.

The Website has been translated into five languages, and is fully accessible for the deaf and blind.

What are your thoughts on The City's new website, calgary.ca/taxtalk? Does it help to clarify where your tax dollars go and what city services they support?

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