Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson says services will take a hit as he trims $12 million over two years to meet the city’s budget targets, but front-line cuts will be minimized.
The proposed budget released on Wednesday includes $100 million in spending cuts and a property tax hike tied to growth and inflation — five per cent for next year.
But Hanson said a new plan is in the works to minimize any impact on policing the streets. He used an analogy to describe it.
"If I run a trucking company and I’ve got eight distribution centres through the province, and I’ve got to find a cut, and I merge my eight centres down to five, that’s an efficiency," he said.
"Does it impact the number of trucks on the street? No. Does this impact the number of police officers on the street? No it does not."
Hanson added that a growing population and increasing demands on the police service make any cuts a tough challenge.
The budget plan also calls for higher transit fares for adults and a $20 hike for a senior’s pass each year for the next three years.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city is entering a new era of honest budgeting.
"In the past, it was bit of theatre, we came out with very large tax increase knowing that council was going to whittle it down.
"This year we actually asked administration to bring us back an honest budget, a real budget that reflects what we think Calgarians have told us that they're willing to pay for the services they receive. So I do not think there's a lot of gravy, a lot of ‘nice to have’ asks in this budget."
Some council members say a bigger tax hike may be needed to ensure Calgarians get the services they want.
The city will hold public meetings on the budget next week and council will finalize the spending plan later this month.