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City Surplus

City Surplus

City Surplus

The City has three types of surpluses: Operating, Annual and Accumulated. The City can and has used Operating Surplus in the past to help reduce property tax increase impacts. However, the other two types of surplus amounts reported don’t represent funds available for use.

The chart below explains where each surplus type comes from and the areas it can support. The content below the chart expands on each surplus type. 

Surplus type Balance at Dec. 31, 2019 What it is and where it comes from Areas it can support
Surplus type:

Operating Surplus

Balance at Dec. 31, 2019:

$110 million

What it is and where it comes from:

The City doesn’t plan or budget for an operational surplus. But surplus is achieved through The City’s commitment to reduce costs and grow revenues. 

Areas it can support:

These savings (the surplus) are used to help Calgarians and has been used to reduce tax requirements. The surplus is transferred to the Fiscal Stability Reserve (FSR).

Surplus type:

Annual Surplus

Balance at Dec. 31, 2019:

$1.33 billion

What it is and where it comes from:

Annual surplus accumulates due to accounting standards that result in the grants received from the other orders of government being fully recognized as revenues when received while the infrastructure that the grants fund is amortized over time.

Areas it can support:As an indicator only, this surplus does not necessarily create an availability of funds. Therefore, it’s not used to support budget requirements.
Surplus type:

Accumulated Surplus

Balance at Dec. 31, 2019:

$21.025 billion

What it is and where it comes from:

This indicator represents The City’s total net economic resources, both financial and non-financial and it is the sum of net financial performance since inception. Approximately 88% of the Accumulated Surplus is represented by Tangible Capital Assets, which are those infrastructure assets developed to provide services to citizens.

Areas it can support:

This is the equity in The City comprising mainly of the value of infrastructure and equity holdings in Enmax. The value from this holding cannot be realized as funds to support other areas unless the asset, such as infrastructure (roads, bridges, Enmax) is sold

All surplus amounts and details are shared in the Annual Report. The Annual Report provides a comprehensive view of The City’s financial statements. It also includes The City’s efforts to ensure practical cost management, savings and positive operating cash flows.

Operating Surplus


At The City operating expenses include costs of delivering services as well as operation and maintenance of facilities, infrastructure, equipment, systems, vehicles. The City has an operating budget for these costs and it’s largely funded by property tax and user fees. The City doesn’t plan or budget to spend more than we take in and we also don’t budget to take in more than we spend. In other words, we don’t budget for a deficit or a surplus.

The 2019 tax-supported Operating Surplus of $110 million is reflective of The City’s commitment to reduce costs and equates to approximately 3% of tax-supported gross expenditures. This surplus was achieved by:

  • Decreases in expenses from intentional management of salaries and wages, contracted and general services, materials equipment and supplies and interest charges.
  • Reduction of City positions.
  • The City successfully implementing investment strategies resulting in increased investment income.

These operating savings (the surplus) are used to help Calgarians. The surplus is transferred to Fiscal Stability Reserve (FSR), which serves as a contingency fund for operational emergencies, urgent or contingency capital expenditures, and to compensate for unplanned revenue reductions with significant financial impacts.

As the Operating Surplus may not be a re-occurring revenue it cannot be used to reduce the re-occurring operating budget. However, it can and is used to reduce tax requirements in the form of one-time rebates.

The savings for 2019 have been partially committed to the 2020 phased tax program (2020 PTP) and funding for established areas infrastructure. As well, a portion of the surplus was used to fund the 1.5% tax rebate ($48 million) going back to residents and businesses, keeping the 2020 and 2021 municipal tax rate increase to zero, excluding the impact of the provincial impact flow through and changes in revenue distribution.

Annual Surplus


The majority of the Annual Surplus of $1.33 billion is due to accounting standards that result in the grants received from the other orders of government being fully recognized as revenues when received, while the infrastructure that the grants fund is amortized over time. The amount reported is used as an indicator to represent whether The City was able to generate enough revenue to cover expenses in the year.

As a hypothetical example, if a $50 million grant is received for the construction of a bridge that has a 50-year life, we would recognize $50 million in revenue but only $1 million in expense, creating a $49 million surplus (even though we spent the full $50 million).

As an indicator only, the Annual Surplus does not necessarily create an availability of funds.
Therefore, it’s not used to support budget requirements or reduce tax impacts.

Accumulated Surplus


The Accumulated Surplus of $21 billion represents The City’s total net economic resources, both liquid and equity. It is the sum of net financial performance since inception. It is the equity in The City comprising mainly of the value of infrastructure and equity holdings in Enmax. The value from this holding cannot be realized as fund to support other areas unless the asset, such as infrastructure (roads, bridges, Enmax) is sold.

This Accumulated Surplus also represents amounts indicated in both the Annual Report Surplus and Operating Surplus.