CALGARY (660 NEWS) -Layoff notifications will soon be given after Calgary City Council approved $60 million across the board in budget cuts.
City manager Glenda Cole said the process began Tuesday evening, the same day council voted on the matter.
“Reductions will affect 48 service lines, will result in 233 positions being eliminated and will result in a layoff of 115 of our city colleagues. It’s never easy to lose loyal and committed colleagues.”
The biggest cuts are coming from transit, policing and firefighting as the city looks to provide tax relief to business owners.
Administration will be working on a couple of possible scenarios to either reduce the planned tax increase for businesses, or completely eliminate it, with a decision being made during the next budget discussions in November.
Changes to transit will include reduced frequency of some routes. That will come into effect this September.
However, there will be no reductions to services through Access Calgary.
WATCH: Council approves $60 million in budget cuts
With the fire department, the cuts mean fewer medical response units and one less rescue unit will be available.
There will also be less disaster preparedness, fewer affordable homes, and a loss of recreation services in some communities.
Cole stressed the fact that reductions like this will likely continue in the future.
“We will continue to work with council to determine the further reductions we know will be needed for 2020 and beyond to continue to support Calgary’s economic recovery.”
Councillors voted 13-1 in favour of the cuts on Tuesday despite concerns from many community members and businesses.
“If you take transit and you used to go shop here, you can’t go shop there,” said Sandip Lalli, President of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. “You take transit, and now it’s less convenient for you to get to work. This situation is going to impact us and how we live our lives.”
Lalli said that solutions like this one from the city are nothing more than a band-aid fix.
The Chamber has been lobbying for some time for an overhaul of the property tax system.
“You’re not here with these cuts as a result of the business community,” said Lalli. “You’re here with these cuts as a result of not addressing an issue that has been in place since 2016 on structural issues around property tax to balance the city budget and city administration budget.”
There are no easy choices when it comes to the property tax issue. Fixing the imbalance in the property tax rates will require council to put good policy over politics & make difficult decisions. Decisions they have been entrusted to make. #yyccc @nenshi https://t.co/0Kj3B7IU80
— Calgary Chamber (@CalgaryChamber) July 24, 2019
Lalli said they will continue to push council to reduce the ratio between residential and non-residential taxes as well as find operational savings and sell non-revenue generating city land.