The results are in! What you said about the City budget

Post Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014
From March 3 to 21, The City of Calgary asked Calgarians to help find the right balance between investing in quality public service and keeping tax rates affordable.

Click here to view the full report (PDF) of what Calgarians told us.

The responses we received provided rich and robust feedback to consider. The information gathered covered a wide-array of opinions and ideas and, when the engagement streams were consolidated together, several key themes and some consistent priorities emerged.

Transit:
An efficient and reliable public transit network was identified as a top priority consistently across engagement input streams.

Affordable Housing:
This emerged as a priority across input streams, expressed as impacting everything from cost of living, to social isolation, to job talent attraction.

Other Transportation:
While public transit emerged as a priority on its own, it is clear that how Calgarians get around is a top-of-mind priority, specifically in regard to vehicles, pedestrians and bikeways with noticeably different responses based on geographic location gathered through postal codes.

Other Community/ Urban Planning:
Community safety, local parks and amenities, and urban sprawl were commonly recurring priority choices.

Efficiency/ Effectiveness:
There was an expressed desire for improved demonstration of spending efficiencies in municipal service delivery, particularly regarding the desire to see better communication about efficiency and effectiveness.

Taxes/ Tax Rates:
There was an expressed preference to maintain service levels, even if accompanied by tax rate increases. There was also recognition that property taxes could be a burden to those with lower or fixed incomes. Also noted was the need to better inform and demonstrate where tax dollars are spent.

As directed by Council, the representative and inclusive engagement program ensured there was a broad awareness of the opportunities to participate, gave citizens multiple ways to participate that best suited their lifestyle, and 'went to where the people are' including community events, malls, parks and farmer's markets.
  • Representative engagement included ideation for citizens representing various demographics and geographic areas, and focus group sessions for business, social agencies and community representatives.
  • Inclusive engagement included online discussions, in-person discussions, open ended comments, and priority tools and budget simulation both online and at events.
  • Civic Partners were engaged through an ideation session and City Administration was engaged to provide ideas on finding efficiency and collaboration.
The complete Action Plan engagement report is available on the Action Plan website and contains the strategy, implementation, engagement reach and participation, and engagement results including preferences by geography (ie: a ward-by-ward comparison).

Next Steps

  • The Action Plan 2015-2018 engagement program results provide rich input from Calgarians that, along with other information sources, give Council necessary information from citizens to aid Council in determining their Strategic Plan for 2015-2018 on May 5, 2014. On this day, Council will also set suggested tax rates, utility rates and user fees.
  • The results are also given to City Departments and Business Units for consideration as they develop their four-year business plans and budgets.
  • Business plans and budgets will be coordinated into The City’s Action Plan 2015-2018, and publicly released in early 2014 November.
  • Citizens and stakeholders can provide comments and thoughts on the consolidated draft Action Plan 2015-2018 in mid-November. There is also a final opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to appear and present at Council’s Public Hearing at the beginning of business plan and budget debates, starting 2014 November 24.
  • City Council will debate the proposed Action Plan 2015 – 2018 from November 24 through December 5, 2014.