While automakers and executive firms alike run themselves into the red, the City of Calgary is looking at a surplus.
Projecting a $2-million surplus in operating expenses for 2009 means the city has stayed well within its budget, but Ald. Ric McIver said it may also add up to overtaxation.
“I think this is one of those times that you have to try and be sensitive to the people that we work for,” McIver said, calling the surplus “bittersweet.”
“The money should go back to Calgarians in the form of a lower tax rate for 2009, but council hasn’t had much of an appetite for that,” he said. The money will be put away in reserves, but just what rainy day fund it will be appropriated to has yet to be determined.
Ald. Andre Chabot said while it “certainly takes money to run a city,” some of the increases, such as parking, weren’t necessary.
Aside from the recent hikes affecting Calgarians, Chabot believes some of the extra cash came from the staffing shortages, particularly in human resources, the city saw last year.
“We should be cautious about adding staff to those areas,” he said, adding “it’s not like the city came to a standstill” without the positions filled.
McIver suggested that maintaining the vacancies would be an idea to consider.
“That’s some of the attitude changes we need to see if we’re going to control the tax increases in the future,” he said.
Calgarian Steve Cushman said he hopes the city uses the funds well.
“Put it away and use it wisely in the future,” he said. “We’re in for tough times in the city.”
Overall, he feels the city has been using its money well, aside from things like the infamous pedestrian bridges, but said it would be difficult to try to give the money back to Calgarians since it would take forever to decide where it would go.