Here’s what $60M in budget cuts will mean for Calgary staff, services
Two days after Calgary City Council finalized $60M in budget cuts, senior city administrators have revealed what kinds of changes city staff and services can expect to experience.
“It’s never easy to reduce services that we know that Calgarians value,” city manager Glenda Cole said.
But that is exactly what the city has had to do.
Here’s a look at what those cuts are and when they’ll happen.
Public transit, which is facing a loss of more than 80,000 service hours, will see reductions by the end of the summer season.
“We’ll be rolling that out in the next few weeks,” general manager of transportation Michael Thompson said. “And those changes will go live on September 2.”
Transit users can expect to see longer wait times between buses and trains as a result.
City staff cuts
Also in the works — job cuts for city staffers. Cole said that, as of July 9, there were 14,410 city employees.
A total of 233 positions will be eliminated, and 115 people currently employed will lose their jobs.
“We are currently looking to identify and put together the right, respectful and dignified process,” acting chief financial officer Carla Male said. “But the process will roll out over the next few weeks.”
Reductions in funding to emergency services, charities and other groups are also planned for the immediate future.
Cole said administrators were tasked with finding savings and did the best they could with the time they had.
“Because of the short time frame and the need for immediately cash-able savings, we went through as thorough a process as we could.”
What does the future hold?
City administrators warn more cost-savings will likely be necessary in the months to come, and they’ll be looking for any and all efficiencies.
Ward 11 Councillor Jeromy Farkas agreed the pain isn’t over.
“Are more cuts going to be necessary? Absolutely yes,” he said.
Farkas said it’s time to take stock of what’s important and had the following question for the city, its workers and its unions:
“Do they want to take the salary reductions or do they want to take the job losses? My preference is to keep the jobs — lower the salaries.”
He also said it’s important for council to lead by example and reduce its expenses.
Calgary Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek maintained council is doing just that.
“We’ve all taken a cut,” Gondek said. “I don’t know what directly that will impact but I do know that we run fairly lean with our ward budgets.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s taken it a step further.
“I am the only member of council that has actually taken a pay cut.”
City administration is now preparing a budget for next year, one not expected to be much easier.
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