Budget Wrap-Up 2023-26

Deliberations for the 2023-26 budget cycle have concluded. This exercise is one of the larger projects that The City undertakes to engage with Calgarians and builds a common path forward. The work that goes into preparing the budget is deep and the conversations it catalyzes are of high value. The task of this and previous Councils is to synthesize the feedback, face down all the competing priorities and deliberate on a path forward.

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2023-26 Budget Survey

We are close to the start of the 2023-26 Budget deliberations (November 21st, 2022).

The City of Calgary online engagement concluded at the end of September and the feedback will be turned into a report for Council to help inform our decisions. If you missed that opportunity, do not fear!

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Single Use Items Reduction Strategy (CD2022-0985)

I believe the goal of reducing our collective habit of using single-use items is an important one. Eliminating the use of unnecessary single-use items and replacing needed ones with reusable options is a worthy undertaking. The Single Use Items Reduction Strategy (CD2022-0985) Bylaw is a great step in the City of Calgary’s commitment to the Environment.

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Rabbits and RHD

Rabbit

The Seton rabbit population has been decimated by RHD (Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease).

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My Response to Public Figure Harassment

There is absolutely a growing trend of incivility, anger, and threats directed at many people in the public realm, particularly politicians and news media. This harassment disproportionally affects women, particularly in already marginalized communities. These attacks are very concerning, reprehensible, and in many cases illegal due to their inclusion of threats of harm.

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SE Smells

As many of you have recently noticed our SE smells are back in full force and impacting many in Ward 12. This issue has had a lot of discussion and research put into it and as previously discovered, pinpointing the specific source has proven difficult. We will do our best to keep you updated. 

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Foxtails

Foxtail barley is a native plant found in Calgary. While it’s not classified as an official Prohibited Noxious or Noxious weed by Alberta Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development, Foxtail Barley can cause issues for our furry family members: the seeds can become stuck in fur, paws, the mouth, eyes, and noses—creating a painful and potentially dangerous issue for pets. When inhaled or swallowed they can be life-threatening without medical intervention.

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Municipal Property Tax Bills 101

Each year, City Council approves the budget needed to support City services. To get the amount of revenues required from property taxes, The City takes the overall expenditure and subtracts all other sources of revenue such as licence fees, permits, user fees, and provincial grants. The balance is the amount to be raised through municipal property taxes.

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Councillor Spencer on the 2021 Budget Surplus

Council recently had the opportunity to review the audited financial statements for The City. This is an annual process that requires Council to approve the statements — before they are submitted to the Province — which oversees all municipalities. These financial statements were for the 2021 fiscal year, and therefore not directly connected to decisions made by this Council, as their term began in October.

We were informed that The City is carrying a non-budgeted surplus from business activities in 2021 to the tune of approximately $147 million. The sources of these additional funds include investment income, property taxes due to a greater number of homes constructed, Enmax earnings due to higher resource prices, sale of land and assets, as well as savings through operating efficiencies. It is important to note that achieving a surplus isn’t an anomaly.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) in the Province of Alberta does not allow municipalities to run a budget deficit. This forces cities like Calgary to budget with an allowance for surplus, to prevent the possibility of a deficit position. Part of what surpluses are allocated to are several reserve funds that allow The City to respond to major events or opportunities to fund concerns outside of the normal budget process. These include events such as the 2013 flood, 2020 pandemic funding, and initiatives like the Calgary Transit security boost provided in early 2022.

In terms of our current 2022 tax year, this Council passed budget adjustments last fall without the final 2021 figures being made available to them. There was no information presented that inferred there would be a budgetary surplus from the previous year that would allow new spending, without a tax increase. I am making inquiries as to whether this is common practice or if there is a mechanism to provide more recent information regarding current budget positions. It is certainly frustrating to learn there were funds available at the same time we were approving important budget adjustments and a corresponding tax increase.

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Councillor Spencer’s First 100 Days and Top 5 Priorities for Ward 12

Thank you for finding your way to this post reflecting on my first 100 days as the Councillor for Ward 12. My office team and I are pleased to report on the work that has been done with the new City Council — and even more excited about the work ahead of us. While the adjustment has been intense, I am enjoying the challenge and the opportunities every day presents to serve Ward 12 and all Calgarians.

You may recall, I campaigned with a 100 Day plan, focusing on five specific priorities gleaned from what I heard from you at the doors and in the community. What you will find below is an update around those priorities and the actions we have been able to take thus far. Influencing these priorities has been a considerable learning process and requires establishing strong relationships. All five priorities are large and multifaceted and will continue to be priorities over the full four-year term. 

On a personal note, my wife and children have been gracious and accommodating with the changing routines and for that I am extremely grateful. We have reclaimed our weekend getaways to the mountains and thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas break with the time it provided for much-needed rest and relaxation.  

 

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