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City budget finalized, but more tough decisions ahead for council

Last Updated Dec 3, 2019 at 8:21 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – While Calgary’s budget is finally settled, more tough financial decisions lie ahead for the city.

On Friday the budget was approved along with a tax shift meaning that next year, homeowners will see an increase on their bills in order to provide some relief for businesses.

READ MORE: Calgary council votes against property tax boost, but homeowners face increase in tax shift

The mayor is also firing back on some criticism about their expenses–the Calgary budget was part of some discussion during the United Conservative Party AGM this weekend and Naheed Nenshi says the province isn’t in a position to throw shade.

“[The province] increased income taxes, increased property taxes, cut front line services, had a 33 per cent cut to the Calgary Police Service, and managed to increase the deficit $2 billion all at the same time. Pretty neat trick,” said Nenshi.

“Clearly, this city is the government in Alberta that has its financial house in order, that is fair, that is balanced, that is doing the right thing here.”

Nenshi added there are a few business classes that may need a bit more help moving ahead, which would be strip malls, neighbourhood shopping centres, and storefront retail.

“The rest of them have really evened themselves out with the tax shift. So, the question is, can we get the numbers right so that those three categories can get the most benefit?”

Also in the budget, about $50 million has been identified to balance out some other losses and prevent a higher property tax increase, and half of that needs to be made back by 2021.

Nenshi says homeowners he talked to are okay with paying a bit more, and he is especially pleased they were able to maintain most services, such as the low-income transit pass.

There will be over 100 more layoffs at the city, however, which Nenshi laments, but adds it points to the need for other efficiencies.

“We are not going to layoff thousands of people who are delivering services every single day while demand goes. What we are doing is finding better, more efficient, and smarter ways to deliver those services.”

Nenshi also said while the provincial budget throws a bit of a wrench into the city’s capital plans, major projects like the fieldhouse and arena should still go ahead.