Today, City Administration released its proposed adjustments to the 2011 Business Plans and Budgets for City Council’s consideration during the 2011 Business Plans and Budgets deliberations.

The annual adjustments process enables Council to respond to changes in the local economy by modifying the original plans and budgets to reflect changing needs and ensure affordability for Calgarians. Given the slow economic recovery and projected budget shortfall caused by lower than expected revenues and higher costs, Administration has proposed 2011 adjustments to business plans and budgets that meet the previously-approved property tax rate increase, while bringing spending in line with reduced revenues.

“Recognizing Calgary’s economy is continuing to recover from the downturn and that a top priority for Calgarians is to live in an affordable city, all City departments were asked to find ways to reduce costs," said Eric Sawyer, The City’s Chief Financial Officer. “City staff worked very hard to find ways to achieve the cost reductions and show that we are listening to Calgarians’ needs for delivery of City services at affordable property tax rates,” he added.

The proposed 2011 adjustments to business plans and budgets will result in:

A 2011 budget that is consistent with the previously-approved 6.7% property tax rate increase for 2011.
An increase in property tax of approximately $6.60 per month for the median assessed household.
No increase in the business tax rate for the 18th consecutive year.

The recommendations proposed for Council consideration are not solely focused on cost reductions; the proposal also preserves growth in the 2011 plans and budgets for a number of priority programs and services, including:

$8.2 million/65.0 new additional sworn officers in the Calgary Police Service.
$2.0 million for the Calgary Public Library.
$2.2 million for Public Safety Communications (9-1-1).
$3.7 million for Fire (Saddle Ridge, Sage Hill and Emergency Operations Centre).

At the same time, the proposed adjustments accommodate increases to the 2011 operating budget to accommodate urgent or emerging needs such as:

$10.0 million provision for improved snow and ice control.
$1.0 million for one-time operating shortfalls for the Talisman Centre.
$1.3 million for sustainment of Tangible Capital Assets to meet Public Sector Accounting Board requirements.
$1.0 million funding to achieve the full staff complement for the Sage Hill Fire Station.

In order to close the projected shortfall of $47.4 million while preserving, as much as possible, the critical and high priority programs identified above, which citizens have indicated that they need and want, the proposed 2011 adjustments to business plans and budgets include select service reductions and other mitigation measures to help reduce the financial impact on citizens.
Reductions that will affect service levels include:

Fire $3.7 million reduction through a combination of administrative efficiencies and a reduction in shift capacity to accommodate training.
Parks $3.3 million reduction reflecting better asset reporting, fleet right-sizing and reduced seasonal maintenance work.
Calgary Transit reduction of $1.4 million for cleaning staff.
Reduced Calgary Transit parking lot maintenance of $465 thousand.
Elimination of the Access Calgary Extra program.
Reduction of $950 thousand in Community & Neighbourhood Services.
Elimination of the Surplus School Sites Program in the Office of Land Servicing & Housing.
Reduction of Assessment expenditures of $234 thousand.
Reduction of $786 thousand to sustain internal/external websites in Information Technology.
Reduction of $1.25 million in the previously approved Civic Partners budget increase.

Administration has also provided additional potential options to reduce the 2011 business plans and budgets up to a total of an additional $35 million including information on the impacts of such reductions for Council’s consideration.