March 2019 Newsletter
Hi Ward 14!
March is here, and Spring is around the corner (probably). I hope you enjoy my March newsletter!
My Budget Savings Account
Does City of Calgary administration have any real incentive to cut their spending? That is a question I am often asked. I have asked the very same thing both before and after I was elected, and for a long time the answer was no.
The question was asked again recently. In fact, it has come up several times since November of last year. It was posed initially by a member of the public during deliberations for our four-year budget cycle. I am glad to say that the answer is now yes.
I am also glad to say that it is because one of my initiatives. It was actually November 24, 2014—while debating the previous four-year budget cycle—that my motion was presented and passed. It was conceived with the aim of incentivizing the City’s administration to find savings in its operating and capital budgets. On March 30, 2015 Council officially approved the creation of a new reserve called the Budget Savings Account (BSA), where one-time operating or capital savings could be held and reallocated both at the business unit level and the corporate level.
Now I don’t want say that your tax rate is going to go directly down because of this. That is not the way it works. Budgets and property assessments determine rate.
What I will say is that over the first two years over $100 million in efficiencies were put in the BSA for a rainy day (we don’t have firm numbers for the last two years, but I am sure you can extrapolate). I will also say that it has been used to pay for things that might have otherwise raised your taxes. The funds have been used to complete a zero-based review on Transit, to mitigate the cost of the Olympic Secretariat, to freeze certain user fees, and—oh yeah—reduce the property and non-residential property tax rates.
While it may not directly lower the tax rate, my BSA has certainly helped to keep it lower than it would have been otherwise, and there is definitely now an incentive for City administration to mitigate spending.
Changes to your Utility Bill
There are changes coming to the way your utility bill is presented in 2019. In fact, you should be getting the new version of the bill very soon. Delivering safe and reliable drinking water, treating wastewater, providing flood protection, maintaining a system of pipes, plants and pumps, and providing waste and recycling services for a city of 1.2 million can be complicated. The point of the new bill is to make it less complicated to understand, but you should be the judge of that.
Here is what the City is aiming for with the new bill:
- Clarifies the services are provided by The City of Calgary
- Includes service descriptions with easy to reference icons to show what you pay for
- Shows wastewater charge as percentage of water usage and why
- Separates wastewater and stormwater services to reinforce they are separate services (formerly shown under one heading “wastewater and drainage”)
- Identifies clearly if the water usage is based on actual meter read or an estimate
- Uses an easier-to-read font
As you are reviewing your next bill, make a point to review the layout and the content as well. I want to hear what you think of it. You can find out more about the bill at calgary.ca/waterbill, and you can contact me at calgary.ca/contactward14.
Living in a City with Coyotes
There seems to be more coyotes inside city limits these days, and they are more than capable of taking a stroll through the communities of Ward 14.
Citizens can reduce or even eliminate negative encounters with coyotes and pets by ALWAYS keeping dogs on leash except in off-leash parks and DO NOT allow cats to roam. Not only will these steps help keep pets safe, they are also the requirement in The City’s Responsible Pet Ownership bylaw.
Here are some things that will greatly reduce the risk of coyote encounters:
- Coyotes can be attracted to an area by dog feces, so please clean up after your pets, even in natural environment parks.
- Don't approach or feed coyotes.
- Secure open areas under porches, decks or steps.
- Clean up your compost, garbage and other potential food sources.
- Don't store food outside.
- Clean up around bird feeders and clean up fallen fruit.
For more information, visit calgary.ca/coyotes.
The next Counciltalk is on March 23 at the Southview Church (20200 Walden Blvd SE) from 12 to 2 p.m. Visit calgary.ca/counciltalk for the other Counciltalk dates, times, and locations.
-Councillor Peter Demong
Categories: Motions and Initiatives, Newsletter