City officials to unveil adjustments to Calgary's 2022 budget

·3 min read
Mayor Jyoti Gondek speaks to reporters at City Hall Oct. 21, 2021. Gondek said she's looking forward to seeing administration's recommended changes for the coming year. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)
Mayor Jyoti Gondek speaks to reporters at City Hall Oct. 21, 2021. Gondek said she's looking forward to seeing administration's recommended changes for the coming year. (Mike Symington/CBC - image credit)

Calgarians and their newly elected city council will get a look on Monday at proposed adjustments to the city's 2022 budget.

It's the fourth and final year of the city's current four year budget cycle.

Calgary homeowners saw a 1.7 per cent property tax cut for 2021. Earlier this year, administration said that a tax freeze for the coming year was possible, provided it could find additional spending cuts.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said she's looking forward to seeing administration's recommended changes for the coming year.

The city has found tens of millions of dollars in corporate savings to ease the pressures of continuing inflation and population growth.

Pressure to reinvest

However, the mayor said there's likely a need for reinvestment in some areas, like transit service.

"We're going to need to be realistic with ourselves about the places that we've made cuts that are impacting Calgarians," said Gondek.

"Transit is the number one place that we are hearing about people suffering because they're not able to get to work or school or appointments at the service levels that they have expected in the past."

She said many arts organizations have been badly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced them to essentially shut down and lay off staff. So she said there may be a need to assist them as well.

Gondek said past recommendations for budget adjustments have been challenged when they hit the floor of council. She cited recent examples of reductions to the fire department budget which were scaled back by council.

"I'm interested to see how they come back with strategic cuts instead of the typical formula of cuts across the board."

Balancing act

Even a self-described fiscal conservative on council said that as much as he'd like to see a property tax freeze to help Calgarians, there's pressure to spend a bit more in some areas.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said he heard from residents in his part of town during the election campaign that they'd like to see the city spending more on roads, parks and green spaces.

"I would like to see that as well. But at the same time, I understand that administration is trying their best to work towards a zero budget increase, which would also make me happy," said Demong.

As always, he said budgets are a balancing act and this year will be no different.

"I do know that we're faced with some pretty major inflationary issues as well as some economic pressures. So I'm going to be very interested in seeing how administration plans to deal with these and what council's reaction is going to be."

With so many newcomers elected to council last month, Demong said it's hard to predict where his colleagues are at when it comes to what they'd like to see happen with the 2022 budget plan.

After the adjustments are unveiled, Calgarians will be asked to weigh in with their thoughts.

City council will discuss the adjustments and other proposals they might have during the annual budget debate, which will start on Nov. 22.

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