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COVID-19 presents potential challenges to Calgary budget

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

City officials said Calgary’s timeline to cut $74-million from the operating budget by 2021 could be at risk due to the unknown challenges presented by the novel coronavirus.

City manager David Duckworth, said right now, the city is facing uncertainties.

“Things are changing rapidly, in fact, things are changing by the hour on my phone,” Duckworth said to members of the Audit Committee on Thursday.

“Two weeks from now the timelines of this might have to be extended.”

READ MORE: Calgary administration finds $60M in proposed cuts to the budget

Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting received an update on the Solutions for Achieving Value and Efficiencies (SAVE) initiative.

As part of the initiative, the city will hire an external consultant to find $24 million in savings by November — and another $50 million by 2021.

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Duckworth hopes these measures will help the city stay on track.

“Without what we were facing a week or two ago, I was pretty confident in the timing that we would be coming back with respect to the first $24 million,” Duckworth said

“I’m still very confident, but the world around us is changing considerably.”

Click to play video 'Alberta’s finance minister speaks to Calgary chamber after budget' Alberta’s finance minister speaks to Calgary chamber after budget
Alberta’s finance minister speaks to Calgary chamber after budget – Mar 2, 2020

Evan Woolley, a Councillor and chair of the Audit Committee, said he also feels confident the savings can be achieved.

“I know that the city manager and staff throughout the organization have tons of ideas, thoughts, processes, improvements and efficiencies that they will bring to the table,” Woolley said.

READ MORE: 2020 Calgary property tax assessments: What you need to know

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City council voted during last November’s budget adjustment to find the $74 million in savings.

That came after a 0 per cent property tax hike was approved with a one time rebate of $24 million.