Calgary

Police hit hard by provincial budget cuts for Calgary

Calgary police are facing a $12-million reduction to the service's 2019 budget, a cut the mayor says he is struggling to understand.

Police are losing $12 million, after losing $7 million from the city earlier this year

Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld says the $12-million reduction is a significant hit to the service's budget. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC)

Calgary police are facing a $12-million reduction to the service's 2019 budget, a cut the mayor says he is struggling to understand.

On Monday, council heard the provincial budget will cost the city $16 million a year in operational funding. The bulk of that is made up of costs to police — the province is going to keep a greater share of revenues from traffic tickets, at a cost of $10 million a year to the city, and will charge police for forensic testing, at a cost of $2 million.

"The thing that's really surprising about this is the biggest cut was to the police," Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

"The fact that this is from a government that prides itself on its commitment to law and order."

Chief Mark Neufeld said the reduction is a significant one and it will be hard to find places to cut back, especially after the city cut $7 million to the service's budget earlier this year.

The cuts forced police to reduce training, some technology and trimming its fleet size by 10 per cent.

"Over the last couple of years we've found about $20 million in efficiencies … we're an efficient organization the way it is now," he said.

The reduction is the equivalent of 130 full-time jobs, Neufeld said, adding that 86 per cent of the police budget goes to its workforce.

'Not easy decisions,' says Nenshi

Nenshi said it will be tough to balance those impacts to the operating budget.

Where the city can roll with the punches, he said, will be coping with a $732 million reduction to the city's capital budget over several years or delays to that budget — by delaying, deferring or cancelling projects like parks, recreation facilities and work on core infrastructure like bridges and roads. 

"These are not easy decisions," he said. "My job is to balance those things off. I'm not interested in covering for the provincial government … but I am interested in ensuring we've got the right tradeoffs to keep our taxes low."

The province has also increased its requisition for education property taxes, which will add more than $50 a year to the tax bill for a median-priced house, Nenshi said. 

With files from Scott Dippel

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