Calgary Minute: Budget Surplus, Stadium Deficit, and Ice Cream With A Side Of Red Tape
Calgary Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Calgary politics
This Week In Calgary:
There is an important Strategic Meeting of Council today at 9:30 am where Council will, amongst other things, receive the City's Annual Report and External Auditor Year-End Report. The Annual Report provides updates on all City activities in 2020 as well as providing detailed financial statements, while the Audit revealed significant risks pertaining to administrative override of controls, capital deposits, and tangible capital assets, as well as $3.2 million in uncorrected misstatements (the details of which are being kept secret).
- On Tuesday at 9:30 am, there will be a meeting of the Priorities and Finance Committee where a number of plans to "fix" Calgary's economy will be discussed. Honestly, the best thing Council could do to fix Calgary's economy would be to stop implementing so many rules and regulations that harm Calgary's economy! Speaking of which, the Committee will also be debating allowing the consumption of alcohol at certain City parks, but the proposal would only be temporary, would require people to be seated at picnic tables, and would require people to make reservations for the picnic tables! Holy red tape, Batman!
- In other Committee news, there will be a meeting of the Standing Policy Committee on Utilities and Corporate Services at 9:30 am on Wednesday, and a meeting of the Gas, Power, and Telecommunications Committee at 9:30 am on Thursday. With all due respect to those involved, we don't expect much of anything to happen at either meeting. You never know with this Council though, so we'll keep you informed, just in case!
Last Week In Calgary:
- One day after announcing that the City had run a $98 million surplus in 2020, the City corrected itself and announced they'd actually run a $219 million surplus. Now, a large chunk of that ($187.5 million) is COVID payments from provincial and federal governments, but that still means the City would have been over-taxing Calgarians even without those transfers! Also, let's not forget Calgarians pay provincial and federal tax too, so that's $219 million taken from Calgarians unnecessarily. Councillors are already talking about ways to spend the money to "help with the economic recovery" (see above), but based on City Hall's track record, the best thing they could do with the $219 million is give it back to Calgary taxpayers, not squirrel it away into yet another "rainy day fund" to be spent on Councillors' pet projects that seem to have nothing to do with rain!
- On the ongoing stadium cost-overrun saga, we could do a lot worse than to just quote Chris Nelson: "You have to hand it to Calgary’s city council. When it comes to self-isolating, they’re an example to us all... If Calgarians have an inconvenient hankering to know what’s happening with plans for a new home for the Flames, for example, we must resort to tea-leaf reading instead, rather than hearing simple truth courtesy of our civic representatives... The mayor did emerge briefly to explain this ‘more tax dollars wanted’ shocker isn’t such a big deal; it’s the recent inflationary spike on construction materials mainly to blame... Well, he’s correct that the cost of certain commodities, such as lumber and copper, are on a blistering tear, though it does raise the interesting question that if this is already causing a spike of $70 million on a $550-million build, then what would it do to a civic project estimated at 10 times that outlay? (Psst, for you dozy bunch at the back, that would be the Green Line.)".
- Finally, in yet another perfect example of the "we know best" cult that permeates City Hall, the City is making it impossible for a Centre Street DQ to rebuild after a fire. Druh Farrell, the Councillor for the area opposed the rebuild saying that because the site is near a future Green Line station, the site would be better suited to a high-rise building, never mind the fact that the owners can't afford, and don't want, to build a high-rise, they just want to rebuild their business. Unfortunately, this is just the latest proof that the planners don't actually care what Calgary businesses/residents want, they have a utopian vision of Calgary’s future and anyone that gets in their way gets steamrolled into submission.
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