Crumbs are all that remain after the Calgary Police Department take their share of the City's 2010 budget
While Vancouver continues it's PR budget cutting exercise, the City of Calgary has announced they will be eliminating costly transit routes and hiking taxes by 5% next year. In what comes as no surprise, Calgary also announced they will protect the police budget and will trim every other department in order to make up the shortfall. The Calgary Police will receive a $4.5 million increase in their budget next year despite the fact crime rates continue to tumble in Calgary.
The 2010 budget will include cuts amounting to 21,500 fewer transit service hours, which will mainly impact the bus system. Just last week, the Comptroller General of BC reported that some of the suburban bus routes being serviced by TransLink were severely impacting their bottom line.
In addition, 135 full time positions will also be eliminated. According to media reports, 31 full time staff will be impacted while 43 temporary workers will be given notice. A total of 61 positions that are currently deemed vacant will not be filled.
Not everyone is pleased with Council tapping themselves on the back for a 5% tax increase. Not surprisingly, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation thinks Calgary didn't go far enough. Here is what Scott Henning, Alberta Director of the CTF had to say:
I'd venture to guess some on council are going to bank on the fact it's certainly lower than it has been for the last few years and try to convince Calgarians it's no big deal: 'We listened last year, we chopped where we can, we came in lower than it was before. And it may work.
As for the Calgary's perspective, Eric Sawyer, Chief Financial Officer summed it up this way:
Recognizing that a top priority for Calgarians, particularly given current economic realities, is to live in an affordable city, all departments were asked to find ways to reduce costs.
Interestingly, Sawyer does not see the Calgary Police "Department" as part of the solution when it comes to trimming costs. This has become characteristic of most major Canadian cities (with the notable exception of Edmonton) which continue to provide their police department's with a blank cheque. These are tough times for Canadian cities and the budget season has only just begun.