Capital Budget - Preamble
When I began my term as Councillor for Ward 1, one of my main areas of focus was the financial management of the City of Calgary and reducing the property tax. The previous Council passed a high of 13% and an average of 9.8% tax increases. I found these tax increases completely unacceptable. As the Vice Chair of Priorities and Finance, I worked closely with our CFO and new City Manager Jeff Fielding.
Together, Mr. Fielding and I have reviewed many aspects of our budgeting process and opportunities to explore efficiencies. Some of the worthwhile programs that have achieved significant savings are the Zero Base Review (benchmarking department performance), Council mandated savings account and labour review. I am pleased Council approved the recommended 3.5% property tax increase for 2016. This is the lowest tax increase in over 11 years and an average of 4.24% over the new council period. Would I like the increase to be lower than 3.5%? Of course! In fact, if the City did not experience a $41M shortfall in revenue then the tax increase could have been ZERO without affecting services. I will continue to endeavour to lower our taxes in the years to come.
The next and more complex decisions will be coming forward later with the Capital Budget. There is even a stronger link between capital budget and the local economy. For example, counter-cyclical investment supports job creation because of economic multiplier, and allows the City to take advantage of lower prices. We need to look at ways to speed up building of already-approved capital. This will require a more comprehensive strategy and analysis.
To keep up-dated with on issues pertaining to my role as Vice Chair of the Priorities and Finance Committee, visit my Vice Chair Blog and/or sign-up for my monthly e-newsletter.
Ward Sutherland, Ward 1 Councillor
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.