Calgary wins some, loses some in Alberta budget
Calgary mayor happy about money for key interchange and new funds for 911 service
The initial assessment of the Alberta budget from Calgary’s mayor is that it could have been worse.
Naheed Nenshi said the provincial spending plan contained some good news for the city, including funding to upgrade a key intersection in the deep south.
"Finally getting the funding for the long promised interchange at Macleod and [Highway] 22X. Now I don't know what year that funding is flowing in but we're very happy to have achieved that," he said.
Calgary will not be receiving as much money as previously promised from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), the fund cities and towns rely on for major infrastructure projects.
The city borrowed money for the new west leg of the LRT with the understanding that $50 million was coming from the province.
"So the challenge here is that they are holding the infrastructure funding stable but they had previously promised to increase it," Nenshi said.
"When they cut the growth in those cash flows, the promised growth, it means that we have to pay quite a lot of interest."
Nenshi said the shortfall will have to come from property taxes.
Calgary will also get less money for its police force, the mayor said.
"The amount of money we get for the police seems to be down about five million dollars and that does have an impact on our operating budget and the police are certainly going to have to look for those efficiencies," he said.
The mayor said he is pleased the government is moving forward on a promise to begin charging 44 cents per month for 911 fees for cellular phones.
"When it comes to full force next year that’ll underwrite about 25, 30 per cent of our 911 budget. And that’s certainly very welcome," he said.
Nenshi was critical of the government's decision to trim post-secondary operating grants by $147 million.
"Great cities need great universities and certainly the universities took a giant hit in this budget," he said.