6 city services under review as Calgary councillors look for ways to cut budget

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WATCH ABOVE: Calgary city council met Tuesday and voted on six city services to review if there's room for cuts or decide if they should be eliminated altogether. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Jul 16, 2019

A strategic session of city council took place on Tuesday, where Calgary councillors and administration looked at a list of city sub-services, debating whether there’s room for cuts or to eliminate any of them all together.

Councillors voted 8-6 to approve the review of six services. The review is expected to be completed before budget adjustments are made in November.

The six services are golf programs, the transit subsidy program, citizen engagement, sailing programs and activities, community recycling depots and boulevard naturalization projects.

Possible cuts could be made to them or the services could be eliminated altogether.

But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he doesn’t envision big savings from eliminating these services.

“These first six are a bit of a pilot project,” he said. “Let’s see how the process works.

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“I think that’s why they chose ones where there’s already a bunch of research done,” he added. “But the other thing is straight-up timing. Council has been so all over the map on what they want for the 2020 budget, and there’s only a few months left.”

READ MORE: Calgary city council votes in favour of $60M budget cut and $70M in tax rebates

According to the city, each review would cost $50,000 to $100,000 in staff time.

Councillor Sean Chu and several other councillors questioned the time and cost efficiency of these reviews.

“How can that be so difficult to cost between $50,000 to $100,000 to do it? It’s just a stroke of the pen,” Chu said.

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In a recent survey done by the city that asked Calgarians about services and tax cuts, 41 per cent of respondents said yes to increasing taxes to expand or maintain services while 53 per cent responded that they would like services cut to either maintain or reduce taxes.

The review of sub-services is in addition to the work city administration is already doing to find $60 million in cuts from this year’s budget with details on those coming at Monday’s council meeting.