Calgary councillors told more cuts possible in next year’s budget

David Duckworth has been hired as the new manager for the City of Calgary. Global News

Members of Calgary city council heard Monday that a number of possible scenarios for further budget cuts will be presented to them on Nov. 10.

“It’s going to be a combination of [cuts] across the board as well as if we don’t do [them] across the board, it will be based on what we’re hearing from Calgarians and what they value and what can we do differently,” city manager David Duckworth said on Monday as he was presenting his vision in moving Calgary forward.

He was appointed to the position in early August, replacing Jeff Fielding who left to take a job in Toronto.

City council already approved $60 million in cuts to this year’s budget in July, and has asked administration to come back with three possible scenarios for next month’s budget adjustments.

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Those include a three per cent property tax hike, a 1.5 per cent increase and a budget with no tax increase for 2020.

“Cutting services is so difficult because it doesn’t matter what council picks as the cut, or administration, we seem to always get it wrong is my experience in B.C.,” said Duckworth, who previously worked with municipal governments in B.C.

He said the cuts in July helped administration start thinking in a different way, but he also had a warning for council.

“It can’t continue year after year after year, because it will start to erode the services that are respected and demanded by Calgarians,” he said.

The new city manager is also calling for better communication between the city and Calgarians and members of council, and said administration shouldn’t be afraid to set the record straight if politicians put out incorrect information.

“When misinformation is out there, I will ensure we will contact you to let you know that we will be setting the record straight and we need to tell our story,” Duckworth said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was pleased to hear the vision presented by Duckworth.

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“I think it’s a beautiful articulation of how we need to think and communicate and move forward slightly differently,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of great things and I think that we have allowed a vacuum of communication to kind of overwhelm that.”

Duckworth is promising quarterly performance reports to council to track how well he’s meeting his goals.

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