Friday, November 19, 2010

2011 Budget Adjustment Questions Addressed

Thank you, Calgary, for continuing the conversation about the recently released 2011 budget adjustments. Your comments and opinions are being shared with Council and Administration and are very valued as we move towards Council deliberations.

For the 2012 – 14 Business Plans and Budgets cycle, we will fully engage with Calgarians, taking the time to help you understand how we plan and budget, while listening to your input, answering your questions and working together to create business plans and budgets that truly reflect the priorities and aspirations of Calgarians. We look forward to beginning this process in the New Year.

We will be using this forum to answer some of the questions you have raised over the last two days.

1) A number of questions have come up on what is being cut in the proposed business plans and budget adjustments – in many cases the ‘cuts’ are actually new growth that was planned for 2011, which was approved by City Council in 2008. At that time, Calgary was one of the fastest growing cities in North America and expected to continue to grow through to 2011.

Given the economic downturn, it makes sense to reduce this ‘growth’ for 2011, rather than cut existing services that many Calgarians rely on. While some cuts to existing services are required to achieve a balanced budget, efforts have been made to make a minimal impact to citizens.

A good example of this is the adjustment proposal for Calgary Transit that recommends a 2011 increase of 61,000 service hours. This is a reduction in the growth approved back in 2008, but still an increase in the service hours being offered overall for 2011.

2) In terms of efficiencies, Calgary Transit has also identified an opportunity to reduce costs for outside contractual services and rely mainly on CT staff to conduct maintenance in parking lots, with limited impact on customers who park in the lots. This reduction also includes other Calgary Transit parking lots, not just the park and ride lots, as only a portion of the revenue from the park and ride fee is used for parking lot maintenance. The park and ride revenue is also invested in enhancing safety, security and cleanliness of the entire transit system.

3) There are no proposed adjustments to Access Calgary for 2011. The proposal on the table is the Access Calgary Extra (ACE) program, a supplemental taxi service providing fully eligible Access Calgary customers a subsidy up to $50 a month for spontaneous taxi trips that were not booked through Access Calgary’s shared-ride service. ACE users present their card, pay a drop charge of $3.40 and Access Calgary covers the difference, up to $50 a month. ACE customers are expected to use the Access Calgary shared-ride service for the majority of their transportation needs. Access Calgary will still provide shared-ride, door-to-door service for all customers who were issued an ACE card if the 2011 adjustment proposal is approved.

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