Council to develop plan to spend $147M in surplus funds from 2021

Calgary will need to decide what to do with a surplus of $147 million from last year, city councillors heard during a special meeting of council held Monday.

City of Calgary chief financial officer Carla Male recommended that council factor that money into November’s budget debate, but plans for the surplus had members of council split.

“There’s lots of ways that council can proceed,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who wants to wait until the budget debate. 

“It makes a lot of sense to do it during a four-year budget cycle. Obviously, people can bring forward other ideas at any other time of the year.”

For now, the money is parked in the fiscal stability reserve, the city’s rainy day fund.

Council also posted a surplus the previous year, electing to use most of those funds on the city’s downtown strategy.

Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot was one of several councillors who said the money belonged to Calgarians and should be spent sooner rather than later on things that benefit them.

“I’ve actually already started talking to some of my colleagues, specifically around sidewalk replacement, because there’s a lot of really bad sidewalks, a lot of trip hazards all over the city,” he said. 

“I’ve identified a number of them in the northeast, many of them that are being caused by roots from trees. So, tree replacement is another thing I want to bring forward.”

Coun. Andre Chabot, representing Ward 10, said $174 million in surplus funds should be allocated to city services, such as fixing potholes and broken sidewalks. (CBC)

Coun. Kourtney Penner said everything was on the table for the funds.

She said the surplus isn’t an indication of over-taxation. The city is being well-managed by administration, the Ward 11 rep said, noting it is generating higher revenues from its investments and land sales due to inflation.

“I think we should see this as some good news to continuing to understand how we can leverage this strength for future city-building,” Penner said, adding she wants to wait until this fall’s budget debate.

Ward 1 Coun. Sonya Sharp said she wants to spend the money now on community needs.

“We have the money to be using on community capital projects, like fixing some of our community associations, looking at our swimming pools, looking at our arenas,” she said. “This is the money we should be looking for.”

Motions from councillors related to the funds could be presented at upcoming council meetings.

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