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Business plans and budgets 2012-2014: a new approach

Our City. Our Budget. Our Future
A new approach to business planning and budgeting​

As part of Council’s 2011 business plan and budget adjustment deliberation, Council approved a motion for transformational change in the way The City does business planning and budgeting.

Emerging issues such as challenges in financial sustainability and growth management, along with a recognized need for improved transparency in decision-making and expectations for citizen engagement, call for changes to how City services are planned and delivered.

The new approach to business planning and budgeting called “Our City. Our Budget. Our Future.” was developed by City Administration for the 2012-2014 budget cycle, and approved by Council in January 2011.

Process Overview

As the diagram below illustrates, the new approach incorporates:

  • An internal review of The City’s municipal purpose and core services.
  • Stakeholder engagement results as one of many inputs considered for the development of Council’s Fiscal Plan for Calgary.
  • Council’s Fiscal Plan for Calgary, which sets out the priorities for Administration to develop the 2012-2014 business plans and budgets.
  • A preliminary budget envelope based on the overall indicative annual tax rate increase approved by Council for the development of proposed business plans and budgets.
Business Planning and Budgeting Process Overview


Main differences over previous planning cycles

  • A focus on sustainability and achievement of the vision outlined in imagineCALGARY’s 30-year targets.
  • Consideration of extensive stakeholder input prior to the development of the business plans and budgets.
  • Having Council approve an indicative tax rate, as well as indicative utility rates, and waste and recycling fees, which together provide a preliminary budget envelope that guides Administration in the development of detailed business plan and budget recommendations.
  • An emphasis on defining and presenting City services in a way that uses plain language so information makes sense to citizens.
  • Inclusion of services descriptions and alignment of outcomes and performance measures.
  • Increased transparency to budget information from a department level to a service level of detail.
“Thanks for helping to revolutionize the budget process through more proactive, inclusive citizen engagement ...”
-– from an engagement event participant

Benefits of the new approach

The new approach to business planning and budgeting is intended to:

  • Improve transparency and decision-making by providing Council and citizens more information about  where City funds are used, linking services costs to service levels and outcomes, and better connecting long-term goals to short-term spending decisions.
  • Help The City transform its organization over time by providing for more regular, ongoing, thorough examination of City services to ensure that services are relevant to citizens’ needs and priorities.
  • Increase The City’s accountability in delivering services to citizens effectively and efficiently, while maintaining its focus on a sustainable future.

Increased transparency with new document format

Based on comments from Council and citizens, the business plan and budget pages were re-designed to provide Council and citizens a better view of how the proposed plans and budgets align with Council’s Fiscal Plan and deliver City services citizens most value.

In addition to paying particular attention to using plain language and reducing the use of City jargon and acronyms where possible, the 2012-2014 business plan and budget pages were also re-designed to achieve the following:

  • Alignment with Council’s priority areas – a designated theme and colour for each Council’s priority areas help show how departmental outcomes, strategies and actions align to Council’s Fiscal Plan.
  • Performance measures, goals and objectives – Readers will be able to follow the outcomes, strategies and actions from department, to business unit, to service pages to see how department outcomes will be achieved and measured.
  • Highlights of funding decisions – The business plan and budget highlight pages describe how Council’s Fiscal Plan and other priorities are reflected in changes to business unit’s operating budget, funding decisions and what business units will do to achieve the productivity gain targets set by Council.
  • Greater detail of budget information – Each business unit page includes a chart that highlights the relative importance of revenue sources and expenditure categories as well as a table of budget amounts for the services in that business unit.
  • Detailed service descriptions and budgets – Readers will be able to learn more about specific lines of service within a business unit, the strategies and actions it will deliver, the associated budget and resource allocation in the three-year budget cycle.
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