New Taxpayer Coalition Grades Calgary Mayor and Aldermen

News Release

New Taxpayer Coalition Grades Calgary Mayor and Aldermen

Calgary – June 15, 2009: Today, a new coalition of organizations representing Calgary taxpayers have joined forces to grade the Mayor and Aldermen on how well each have done in defending the interests of taxpayers.

The Coalition for Property Tax Fairness has released its first Calgary Municipal Report Card based on four criteria: Taxpayer-friendly voting record, office budget management, initiative in policy making, as well as proactive stakeholder engagement and responsiveness.

The grades reinforce the Coalition’s desire to improve fiscal accountability and transparency at city hall. The majority of Council received a grade of less than C+, reflecting a need for our elected officials to refocus their efforts on the best interests of all taxpayers.

Bill Partridge, Executive Vice President, BOMA states “Every person at every level of service deserves a performance review.  It is an appropriate opportunity to receive feedback, and reflect on ways to enhance or improve what you do to better meet the needs of those you serve. Council has a difficult and diverse job to perform, and it is fitting at this mid-term point that taxpayers provide our elected officials with an objective assessment of their performance.  Taxpayers after all deserve the very best from their Council.”

A 2009 survey of Calgary Chamber of Commerce members indicated that fiscal management and accountability of Calgary City Council is a top business priority. “Through participation in the Coalition, the Chamber hopes to increase awareness about important fiscal decisions occurring in Council,” says Geoff Pradella, Vice-President of Public & Government Affairs with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. “This scorecard will be a useful tool in assessing how effectively Council is spending Calgarians’ tax dollars.”

“Our small business members are growing increasingly frustrated with the direction of this Council. From excessive spending to increasing taxes and a lack of movement on the extra business tax, small business owners are looking for more. In fact, according to a recent CFIB survey, 70 per cent of our members in Calgary are concerned about the cost of local government – the highest of any major municipality in Alberta. Hopefully, this objective review will be a wake-up call to the Mayor and Aldermen on the importance of defending the interests of small business owners and taxpayers in the remainder of their term”, said Janine Halbesma, CFIB’s Acting Alberta Director.


Coalition Report Card Backgrounder

Report Card Backgrounder

Municipal Report Card – Score Components

  Max Points 
I.    Taxpayer friendly voting record


II.   Management of Aldermanic office and travel budgets  
Within budget


Bonus points: Level of spending below average


III.  Policy making and governance  
Number of motions and taxpayer friendliness of motions


IV.  Responsiveness and proactive stakeholder engagement





I.                    Taxpayer-Friendly Voting Record

The Mayor and Aldermen were given 5 points if they voted to maintain or reduce key expenditure ‘drivers’ and voted they for taxpayer friendly motions and against taxpayer unfriendly motions.  With 32 evaluated decisions there were 160 possible taxpayer friendly voting points, each Alderman was assigned a score out of 70 based on the percentage of their voting record that was tax payer friendly.  The following decisions were used in the analysis (in chronological order): 

FOR Election Donations Reform (November 12, 2007)

FOR Curbside Recycling (March 10, 2008)

AGAINST Business Tax (April 14, 2008)

FOR Dividend Adjustment (April 14, 2008)

AGAINST 5.4% Property Tax Increase in 2008 (April 28, 2008)

FOR Zero Based Budgeting (May 12, 2008)

FOR Multifamily Recycling (May 12, 2008)

AGAINST $25 Million Pedestrian Bridges (Sept 8, 2008)

FOR Reconsideration of Pedestrian Gateways Over Bow River (November 3, 2008)

FOR Sending 3-Year Budget Back to Admin (Nov 17, 2008)

FOR Sending 3-Year Budget Back to Admin (Nov 17, 2008)

FOR Reducing Water, Wastewater, Storm Sewer (Nov 17, 2008)

AGAINST Increases in Tipping Fees, etc. (Nov 17, 2008)

FOR Limiting Assessment Fee Increases to $5K (Nov 17, 2008)

AGAINST The $3 Park and Ride Fee (November 17, 2008)

FOR Property Tax Assistance for Seniors (November 24, 2009)

FOR Budget Information Request (December 15, 2009)

FOR Pedestrian Gateway Bridges Over the Bow (January 12, 2009)

AGAINST Establishment of Single Use Plastic Shopping Bags (January 12, 2009)

FOR Cumulative Cost of Committee and Council Decisions (January 12, 2009)

FOR Council Compensation Reduction (January 26, 2009)

FOR Reconsidering Parking Fee Hikes (Jan 26, 2009)

FOR Council Compensation Reduction (February 9, 2009)

FOR Preparing For the Turnaround (February 23, 2009)

AGAINST Real Estate Transfer Tax (February 23, 2009)

FOR Rolling Three Year Budget (April 27, 2009)

FOR Updating Budget Assumptions (April 27, 2009)

FOR 2009 Acreage Assessment Levies and Standard Development Agreement Negotiations (May 11, 2009)

FOR Memorial Drive Lane Closures (May 11, 2009)

FOR Rescheduling Of the Plan It Calgary Draft Municipal Development Plan And The Draft Calgary Transportation Plan Timeline (May 11, 2009)

FOR Park & Ride Fees (May 25, 2009)

AGAINST 5.3% Property Tax Increase in 2009

For example: Alderman Connelly scored 75% out of a potential 160 tax payer friendly voting points and so scored a 52.5 on the 70 point scale.


II.                  Office Budget Management

The Mayor and Aldermen received 5 points if they stayed within their 2008 office budget ($145,385 for Aldermen, $1,663,000 for the Mayor). The Aldermen could receive 5 bonus points if they stayed below the average, or about 85% of the budgeted amount. The Mayor was also entitled to 5 bonus points if he stayed below 85% of the budgeted amount.

For example: Alderman Jones received five points because he only spent $104,126. He received five bonus points because he was below the average that was spent.


III.                Initiative in Policy Making

The coalition parsed through over seventy Notices of Motion made by Aldermen to regular meetings of Council since the October 2007 Municipal Election.  To come up with an objective measure that takes into account both the activity of the Aldermen and the tax payer friendliness of their motions, the coalition scored each Alderman on the motions they’ve sponsored and co-sponsored with a score of one for a motion that is unfriendly to the tax payer, three for a motion that is tax payer neutral, and five for a motion that is tax payer friendly.

To make the score amenable to a 10-point scale the coalition calculated the proportion of tax friendly activity by each Alderman by dividing each Alderman’s total tax payer friendly score by the potential tax friendly score for all Aldermen (121 units of active participation (sponsoring or co-sponsoring a notice of motion) times a maximum of 5 points per activity = 605 potential points over the 86 motions) and multiplying the result by 100. On this measure Alderman McIver scored over 15, and so the scores have been indexed to reflect a maximum score of ten for Alderman McIver by the following formula (x/15.7)*10.

For example: Alderman Colley-Urquhart scored a total of 59 tax friendly points.  59 (tax friendly points) / 605 (potential tax friendly points) * 100 = a raw score of 9.75. When indexed to Alderman McIver’s score (9.75/15.7)*10 Alderman Colley-Urquhart final score was 6.2.


IV.        Proactive Stakeholder Engagement & Responsiveness

This is the only subjective measure in the report card, and is therefore only received 10% of the total possible points. The Building Owners and Managers Association, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business scored the Mayor and Alderman to the degree to which they proactively seek feedback from these organizations, respond to letters and meeting requests, or engage in the organizations’ programming, etc. The organizations gave either a 0(never), 5 (sometimes) or 10 (often). The final score was then averaged between the organizations.

For example: Alderman Chabot received a 10 from each organization.


The Report Card


Total Score


McIver 95.6 A+
Chabot 87.9 A
Colley-Urquhart 76.5 B+
Connelly 68.3 B
Stevenson 65.4 B
Jones 49.7 C
Hodges 40.9 C-
Hawkesworth 35.6 D+
Mar 35.1 D+
Lowe 28.7 D
Ceci 27.6 D
Bronconnier 26.7 D
Pincott 23.8 D-
Fox-Mellway 19.7 F
Farrell 19.6 F

Already making waves…

The Coalition for Property Tax Fairness has already started making an impact… check out our coverage today in the Calgary Herald:



New Taxpayer Coalition Set to Grade Calgary Mayor and Aldermen Monday

A new coalition of organizations representing Calgary taxpayers have joined forces to promote greater accountability from Calgary City Hall.

On Monday, the newly formed Coalition for Property Tax Fairness will release its first Calgary Municipal Report Card. It will grade the Mayor and Aldermen on how well each have done in defending the interests of taxpayers through expenditure and fiscal management.

Media Conference Details:

When: Monday, June 15, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.

Where: Calgary Chamber of Commerce – 4th Floor 100 – 6th Avenue S.W.

Who: The Coalition for Property Tax Fairness is made up of representatives of the following organizations:

  • Building Owners and Managers Association
  • Calgary Chamber of Commerce
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Canadian Taxpayers Federation
  • International Council of Shopping Centers Retail Council of Canada
  • Southern Alberta Shopping Centre Association

For more information on the conference, please contact Elizabeth Leitch at (403) 750-0424


Watch this space…

The Coalition for Property Tax Fairness will unveil a major report in the next few weeks… stay tuned.

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