Councillor Survey Question 5
Over the next four years, should the City spend less in absolute terms, increase spending but by less than the rate of inflation and population growth, increase by the rate of inflation and population growth, or increase faster than the rate of inflation and population growth?
To maintain existing levels of service, we would have to increase spending by the level of inflation. Once folks get used to a level of service, it's hard to pull back from that so an inflationary increase would at least maintain the staus quo.
Increase only by the rate of inflation and population and reduce the amount of new capital expenditure.
Increase (ONLY) by rate of inflation and population growth.
We need to continue to invest where it makes sense. We have to leverage money we have in our reserves to receive government grants for the many things we want to do.
I do not have enough information about all of the factors involved in this equation to give an accurate answer. There are way too many variables involved and way too much can change in 4 years.
Without knowing the economic factors of the next 4 years, it's hard to make this kind of judgement. I don't want to increase taxes in the next 3 years, and believe the City should have spending that reflects that goal, but I also appreciate we are going to need some investment to spur economic recovery from all of the factors that have been difficult over the last 4 years.
I believe that there should be an increase in spending but by less than the rate of inflation and population growth.
This is a difficult question to answer because the Bank of Canada and the Federal Government monetary policies have assured inflation will be much much higher then 2%. Inflation will not be transitory and the feds have assured we will have runaway inflation. How high that will be? I do not know. But budget restraints need to happen immediately.
I think we’ve had enough spending on capital projects for a while. Restore the police budget, review the CIP. Advocate to other levels of government for special project funding, or research P3 funding if possible for the rest.
We may be headed into what will be seen as the most challenging times in the history of our fine city. Given the fact that we have allowed things such as roads and parks to go unmaintained, we probably cannot cut spending overall. We should try to hold the line in absolute terms until we get our house in order over the next 4 years. During this time, we should look closely at our spending and reallocate to ensure the necessities are addressed first. Incurring huge additional capital expenditures in the short term is not likely an option as the associated operating and maintenance costs would impair our ability to manage responsibly. Meanwhile, we need to look at other strategies for funding new projects and find ways to set aside funds for unexpected events or new crises.
If the past four years have taught us anything, trying to predict what will happen in the next four years and making any promise, which may be unsustainable, is foolish. A Council must respond to the situations in which they govern. If there are extensive cuts made by the other orders of government, then a conversation needs to be held with the community about the financial realities we face as a community and all options considered. In my term on Council, we have seen the lowest tax increases over the past 20 years (1.82%, 0% and 0%). I was also the first Councillor in 20 years to bring forward a resolution to reopen the operating budget in the middle of a term, which led to a reconsideration of the operating budget last November. I recognize from speaking with many members of the community that there is a concern that a future Council will go back to a time of large tax increases. One thing I think is vital moving ahead is priority based budgeting, which means, as you might expect, that a community budgets based on the priorities expressed by the community and the needs in the community. Money is put into the areas of greatest concern. As we make changes within the city and corporation, it will require increased spending in certain areas – in priority areas. We cannot solve some of the problems we’re facing without that. However, that is going to require deep conversations about where we make adjustments in other areas to ensure we can fund the priorities. These are conversations that the new Council must have with the community and difficult decisions are going to have to continue to be made, as they were last November when cuts were made in many several departments.
Ideally, the City should be spending less in absolute terms, however we are not in "ideal times" coming out of (hopefully) the pandemic. Regardless, careful consideration must be front and centre of expenditures. Cutting back in spending will be a challenge as City Departments are crying for more money, Cut backs are possible and in the sense of Lethbridge and our historic high taxation, necessary. Budget reviews must be undertaken and appropriate, fair and realistic cuts made.
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