Calgary's municipal taxes and spending have gone up faster in the last five years than the incomes of people living in the city, according to a new study by the Manning Foundation.
Residential taxes have risen twice as fast as Calgarians' incomes, while business taxes have risen three times faster, the report by the research centre states.
The report also looked at where city funds are being used, concluding that rising wage costs at city hall represent the biggest increase. However, the city's work force has also grown as the population continues to increase.
While admitting the data available from the City of Calgary are not directly comparable to numbers from Statistics Canada, the report concludes that wage growth for city workers has been significantly higher than the wider Calgary economy.
One way the city could cut its spending would be to contract out work that can be done by the private sector, said David Seymour, a senior fellow for municipal governance at the foundation.
He said that includes such services as garbage collection and snow clearing on city streets.
“One example I gave is the 40 per cent saving that Winnipeg made by contracting out their garbage,” he said.
“What would be the precise figures in Calgary would depend on exactly what was being contracted out, who is taking the contracts. There's a range of possibilities there.”
A poll revealed that most Calgarians are open to the idea of inviting more private firms to deliver public services, the report states.
Cities should only provide services when there isn't a plausible private sector alternative, according to Seymour.
Seymour leads the Manning Foundation’s project to develop market-oriented policy for municipal government.