Council will begin budget deliberations for the 2011 Calgary budget on November 29th. There has been a lot of coverage of the budget so far, and in preparation for the conversation that we need to have, I wanted to touch base with you.
First off, the numbers:
Back in the spring, Council was advised that there was an expected shortfall of $60M if the 2011 strategic plan was implemented as is. This number was estimated using economic projections of such things as: the price of natural gas, the expected inflation rate (both CPI and MPI (municipal price index), anticipated transit usage, housing starts, etc. As we got closer to the actual date of budget deliberations these projections were updated with more current estimates. Thus the budget shortfall we are now looking at is $47M. In 2008 the tax rate increase based on the approved business plan was 6.7% - removing $47M from the budget is necessary to reach this 6.7% number.
To put the numbers into perspective for you: a 1% property tax increase represents $10 million of City revenue. For the average homeowner in Calgary, 1% property tax increase is $10 a year*. That means that the 6.7% property tax increase that is budgeted represents an average of about $6.60 a month.
*(Remember this is to the municipal portion of your property tax bill; approximately half of the total bill. The other half of your property tax bill goes to the Province, and that rate is set by the Provincial Government.)
In addition to the $47M adjustment to the budget, Council is also looking at an additional $35M in possible cuts in order to reduce the anticipated tax increase from 6.7% to approximately 3.2%. Both Council and Administration are expecting to achieve the majority of these budget adjustments to reach 6.7% by cancelling yet-to-happen growth to city services; largely leaving services at their current level.
That is Council’s starting point leading up to the budget deliberations. I have received all this information and will be reviewing it over the next days. Not only am I looking at the proposed cuts, but I am also looking through the entire budget looking for any other savings as well as eliminating inefficiencies in processes and programs.
I would like to hear from you.
This year, the City has set up a page on its website to allow you to review the proposed cuts and to give your feedback. The website is www.calgary.ca/2011adjustments
. There you can see the various proposals (which is the same information I have) prior to the November 29th Council meeting.
Please take the time to have a look at the documents, and let me know what you think by ... posting comments to the City’s blog; or by tweeting to #yycbudget. Are there programs being proposed for cuts that you disagree with? Are there other things not on the list that you think could be cut? What about opportunities for generating revenue?