City eyes $2.9B budget for 2012
About 150 city jobs to disappear, mainly by attrition
City officials unveiled a three-year budget plan on Wednesday that would see Calgarians pay five per cent more next year in property taxes.
The 2012 to 2014 proposed business plan and budget calls for another 5.1 per cent hike in 2013 and 5.5 per cent in 2014.
The city estimates it will spend $2.8 billion next year, $2.9 billion in 2013 and an even $3 billion by 2014, the documents show.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said this budget proposal is fairer and more honest than previous ones. Rather than setting a high property tax rate hike and letting council whittle it down, he says this one sets the tax hike at growth plus inflation.
As many as 150 city jobs will be cut, but as most of the jobs are vacant, it's expected only 30 people will lose their jobs.
Plans also include $45 million in "productivity reductions" that were already planned.
The budget calls for 40,000 hours of transit service to be cut in 2013 to save $1 million and 30 associated stafff positions.
Seniors will also have to pay more for their annual transit pass.
Police funding contentious
One of the toughest battles is likely to be over the budget for the Calgary Police Service.
Like all other departments, the police offered up several million dollars in cuts in the last budget process.
After the budget plan was released, police officials said a November recruit class has been cancelled for this year. It would have put 20 more officers on the streets.
Another 45 positions — resulting from retirement — will not be filled, officials said.
Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who is on the police commission, said the force needs 110 more officers over the next three years.
That would add $5 million more to the budget, which in turn could mean higher taxes unless more cuts are found elsewhere.
Composite water and wastewater rates will increase by 9.8 per cent annually. The stormwater drainage charge will increase by 4.9 per cent annually, and waste management charges and commercial landfill fees will go up by 3.9 per cent a year.
The blue cart recycling fee will decrease by 19 per cent in 2012, but increase by 3.9 per cent in 2013 and 2014.
The city will hold public meetings on the budget next week and council will finalize the spending plan later this month.