Calgary approved $60 million in budget reductions late Tuesday, cuts made to accommodate a $130.9 million tax relief package for city businesses.
City councillors have said these budget cuts would hurt; $60 million in operating savings needed with only five months remaining in the year.
The Calgary budget cuts were needed after a massive tax shift with downtown properties plummeting in value. That forced the tax burden on to smaller Calgary businesses.
Most of the 78 items in the package were adopted, with the exception of an amendment made to Package 75 – the closure of two flatwater pools. Administration said up to $800,000 would be allocated from the 2019 Corporate Program Savings to allow for interim servicing, with a report coming to council at the end of September.
As previously reported, Calgary’s fire department, police department and Calgary Transit took big hits in the cuts.
- Calgary fire will cut four medical response units and one rescue unit, reducing frontline positions (through vacancies and attrition).
- Calgary Transit will reduce transit hours by 80,000, reducing frequency and span of rides
- Calgary police cuts will be delivered by the city’s police commission at a later date
Calgary parks will also take a hit that will be immediately noticeable in communities. Lifecycle replacements of things like benches, garbage cans and playground could be reduced, with the city cutting back in-kind contributions by 50 per cent. Communities will have less grass mowing, irrigation, more weeds, because they will be reducing service in those areas.
Street light replacement will now be on a 30-day response target, up from the targeted seven days.
FULL LIST OF APPROVED BUDGET CUTS BELOW
City manager Glenda Cole said the budget reductions included $11.3 million in efficiencies.
“We have worked cross-corporately to put forward reductions that align with the guiding principles set by Council. Those principles included a least harm to services approach and treating employees with dignity and respect,” said Glenda Cole, City Manager, in a prepared statement.
The Calgary budget cuts result in 115 positions being lost, the city said.
While these cuts have been made, the city is already looking ahead to potential changes for 2020. Budget adjustments will be made in November.
“The City is continually looking for opportunities to streamline costs and improve the value and affordability of services provided to Calgarians,” said Carla Male, Chief Financial Officer.
“In addition to realizing the $60 million, and the savings we committed to last November, we will continue to work with Council to determine what further reductions are needed for 2020 and beyond to continue to support Calgary’s economic recovery.”