Will there be cuts to city services? If so, how deep should they go?
That proved to be the fulcrum in a back-and-forth between two of Calgary’s mayoral candidates yesterday, as a new city council will have to grapple with a projected $60 million deficit.
Bob Hawkesworth started the morning on the attack, calling Ric McIver’s supposed promise of massive change and deep spending cuts in order to limit a steep increase in taxes “out of step with Calgarians.”
McIver struck back yesterday while attending the Chinatown Showdown mayoral forum around the noon hour.
“After nine years of being on council, every possible tax reduction that has ever been offered has been too much for Alderman Hawkesworth, so I’m not surprised that trying to protect the taxpayers today, he still considers a bad idea,” said McIver.
McIver said his hope to get the overall tax increase to four per cent or less will be the responsibility of “managers worth their salt.”
Candidate Naheed Nenshi coined the quip of the day, describing McIver and Hawkesworth’s battle over taxes and service cuts as “literally and figuratively, bald men fighting over a comb, because neither of them have any credibility on this issue.”
Nenshi said both aldermen have a track record of voting in favour of tax increases, and additional user fees levied against Calgarians over the past several years.
He added that the conversation — not brought up by any other candidates, he said — needed to centre around the services Calgarians actually require, and how much we’re willing to pay for them.