January 2019 Newsletter
Happy New Year!
January is often a time where people reflect on the year that has just passed and make resolutions for the year to come. It is a chance for us to look back on our successes and challenges and take stock of what we have learned.
At the end of 2018, City Council and I engaged in this same reflective exercise as we reviewed and adjusted the 2019 municipal budget. In November, we examined the successes of previous budgets and set ambitious goals for our future. I am pleased with where we are and look forward to another sub-set of One Calgary.
I’m very pleased with where we ended up with our One Calgary four year service plan and budget. I believe we struck the right balance on three fronts:
1) we maintained an appropriate fiscal discipline given the economic issues Calgary is facing;
2) we spent money on important things that will both improve the lives of Calgarians and that invest in recovery (my three asks were all granted); and,
3) Council collectively wrapped our minds around the fiscal hole that opened up with our downtown real estate values and are pursuing a strategy that I believe is the right way out for Calgarians, and particularly for the Ward 9 business community.
With regard to our investments in our future, we did a large number of things including recommitting to the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, maintaining the low income transit pass, and upping our investments in our urban forest and community facilities. My specific asks of support for Fly Over Park in Bridgeland, the 42 Ave S Multi Use Path to access Highfield Industrial and the Barley Belt, and, most importantly, short-term funding for Main Streets in front of a long term commitment to develop a large capital program, all got support!
Our non-residential tax base we committed to a four step program:
1) continuing to soften the blow by using savings to partially plug the hole;
2) committing to moving towards greater equalization between the non-residential and residential tax rates;
3) execute whatever other great ideas come out of the task force we’ve established to address the problem; and,
4) ask for direct cash infusions to further fill the hole from the other orders of government. On account of 3 & 4 we haven’t finalized our solution and won’t have to until April. But we’re on the right track for a much softer landing.
I am excited for the Great Neighbourhoods work we will be executing on throughout 2019. This budget purposefully focused on investing in safety, social services and public transit and easing the tax burden on Calgarians. This City Council continues to display sound fiscal management and a solid track record, evidenced in the latest credit ratings which are among the best of Canadian municipalities. I will continue to encourage balance and both social and fiscal responsibility for the City of Calgary and ensure that we maintain consistent fiscal performance, maintain a low tax burden and sizable financial reserves, as well as continue to be innovative and lead economic and population growth.
Categories: Accountability, Budget, City Finances, Cost of growth, Development and Projects, Taxes, Transparency, Zero-Based Reviews