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Calgary to revamp budget process in face of ongoing economic uncertainty

City manager Jeff Fielding said focus would be shifted away from 'unprecedented growth' and towards investment in city services.

Calgary city manager Jeff Fielding said they're going to shift the focus of upcoming city hall budgets.

Metro file photo

Calgary city manager Jeff Fielding said they're going to shift the focus of upcoming city hall budgets.

City of Calgary administration said they would be looking at more of a services-based budget in the future, the result of ongoing economic uncertainty in the city.

City administration faced questions from city councillors at Tuesday's Priorities and Finance committee in an overview of 2016 budget performance.

Coun. Evan Woolley queried city manager Jeff Fielding on how the city's budget process might change given current economic times.

"One of the struggles we've had to explain is despite all of our massive savings we're setting these four-year budgets based on 4.7 per cent (property tax increase) and all of these efficiencies gained on that," said Coun. Evan Woolley.

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Fielding said upcoming budget principles would reflect the current state of the economy.

"Your (previous) action plan was a document devised to respond to unprecedented growth. It was really a document that sat on top of the budget," Fielding said.

"We're going to be introducing to you a services-based approach that's going to respond to decisions you need to make in a downturn, as opposed to decisions you need to make when the economy is booming."

Fielding said the decision will be based around the services each department will offer and whether you "add more or you take away."

"The concentration on our 2018 budget will be on the adds and subtractions from the base."

Starting in the 2019 - 2022 budget cycle, Fielding said the emphasis will be less on departmental spending and more on the investment in city services.

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