Calgary’s Priorities and Finance Committee tackles a number of issues at meeting

Calgary's Priorities and Finance Committee discussed a number of items at a Tuesday meeting.
Calgary's Priorities and Finance Committee discussed a number of items at a Tuesday meeting. Carolyn Kury de Castillo/Global News

A long day at the Priorities and Finance Committee at Calgary city hall saw a number of issues discussed on Tuesday.

Inglewood and Beltline pools

The committee decided not to recommend closing the Beltline and Inglewood pools until the issue goes through the budget adjustment process later this month.

Coun. Evan Woolley asked for the delay to see if something could be done with the two pools, which are slated for closure on Dec. 31.

READ MORE: Calgary swim club for youth with Down syndrome facing uncertain future as Inglewood pool closure looms

City administration said that they’ve looked at keeping the pools open but couldn’t find an option that would be sustainable.

A report to the committee said that even with a third-party operator, city funds would be required and the success of the pools would be impacted by the operating and capital challenges.

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Budget debates

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said when budget debates happen later this month, councillors will push to lower taxes and fight for services they don’t want to see cut.

“We’re going to have a royal fight over what will account for $5 a month for the average house, and in fact, a royal fight over $2.50 a month for the average house,” said Nenshi.

“So it’s not a ton of money but they are critical decisions for how we operate and what we believe are important services we need to maintain.”

READ MORE: CBE announces $32M funding shortfall in wake of 2019 Alberta budget

To come back with a zero per cent increase on the municipal portion of the property tax bill, council would be required to find more than $50 million in reductions in what was approved at the start of last year’s multi-year budget.

Nenshi said if council wants to continue the cuts to business property taxes, that will require finding $70 million in savings.

Wage rollback vs. freeze

On the issue of either a wage rollback or freeze for city employees, the motions put forward were put on hold.

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Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas, Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu and Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca are calling for a five per cent blanket wage reduction for all city hall staffers, including their fellow councillors and Nenshi.

READ MORE: Calgary councillors call for wage reduction at city hall amid $70M budget shortfall

Meantime, Coun. Ward Sutherland is calling for a wage freeze for all City of Calgary union employees.

However, at the Priorities and Finance Committee meeting, the councillors agreed to work together to put forward an amended motion.