Government Cost-Cutting Quiz

Tax Assessment and...?

I got my first property tax assessment yesterday. It was for the entire year, and since I only received possession at the end of February, I figured my expense should be pro-rated. When I phoned the number on the invoice, and described my situation, I was forwarded to a woman who answered the phone, “Good afternoon– Tax Assessment and… (BLANK) Office?”

Your job? Guess what other municipal duty the Calgary government decided to pair with Tax Assessment.

a) Land Titles
b) License Registry
c) Property By-Laws
d) Ambulance

The correct answer, in a city that spends millions of dollars destroying the retail and residential land on a major thoroughfare in order to add 2 lanes of traffic, and a province that repeatedly squanders multi-billion dollar surpluses while health care and education crumble, is:


“Good afternoon! Tax Assessment and Ambulance?”

To which I replied, “I’m sorry– what’s the name of your department?”

“Tax Assessment and Ambulance,” she replied.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s the most interesting combination of responsibilities I’ve ever heard of.” I was keeping my voice playful and upbeat, as I didn’t mean it as an insult. I was sure she would laugh and say she heard that all the time. Instead, there was silence on the line.

I tried again. “Doesn’t it strike you as odd to combine Tax Assessment and Ambulance?”

“Hm,” she said, with cardboard stiffness. “I don’t know. I guess I’ve never really thought about it before.”

Ed’s Note: Hm. That explains a LOT.


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