Calgary

Calgary actually posted $219M surplus in 2020, city says, day after reporting $98M savings

The day after posting a $98-million surplus, the City of Calgary says the number it saved is actually much higher — $219 million.

Coun. Evan Woolley says money will go toward supporting Calgarians through pandemic

The City of Calgary says it posted a larger surplus than it initially reported. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

The day after posting a $98-million surplus, the City of Calgary says the number it saved last year is actually much higher — $219 million.

The city says the $98-million figure is the total for the city plus all of its wholly owned subsidiaries — like Enmax and the Calgary Parking Authority. 

But the city's own operations saw a surplus of $219.3 million in 2020.

Of that, $187.5 million comes from federal and provincial support, which helped with city operating costs during the pandemic, while the rest comes money the city saved on operations.

Coun. Evan Woolley said the higher figure is the true reflection of how city operations are managing.

And, he said despite that help from other levels of government, the size of the surplus shows the city managed to balance its books despite COVID-19. 

"It really does speak to the judicious management of our budgets and of taxpayers' money through the pandemic that has allowed us to be in the position that we are today," he said Wednesday.

Woolley said the money will be spent to help Calgarians with economic recovery. 

City officials were concerned that Calgary might fall as much as $200 million into deficit last year unless there was help from other governments.

Municipalities in Alberta are typically not allowed to run deficits. But if they do as a result of special circumstances, they're supposed to advise the province how they intend to balance their books.

It cut spending by $65 million, including the layoff of more than 1,200 employees, primarily in recreation.

"It's really important for us to continue to be judicious about the money that we spend and continue to ensure, though, that we are supporting everyday Calgarians and small businesses across this city to get us through to the other end," Woolley said. 

With files from Scott Dippel

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