City admin offers up cost cutting options

City administration handed council a list of options that could further reduce the city’s 2011 business plans and operating budgets.

Facing a budget shortfall of $47.7 million — down from earlier projections of $60 million — council will have to pare down its spending plans to keep the tax increase at 6.7 per cent. However Mayor Naheed Nenshi asked administration to provide a list of more options to possibly pare down that expected tax hike.

Today administration coughed up that list categorizing potential-cuts into five groups on a sliding scale (group one having the least immediate impact on services five the most) and totaling $36 million inpotential savings.

So what are some of the cuts that would least likely affect Calgarians listed in Group One?

How about slashing human resources by $780000 reducing the mayor’s travel and miscellaneous expenses by $33000 and aldermanic expenses by $114000 and cutting $38000 from the city auditor’s office?

Really? Cuts to the auditor’s office? Let us take a moment to remember the whole ‘Let’s dump a shitload of work on auditor and her understaffed office provide little in the way of direction freak out when she uncovers potential fraud publicly fire her pat ourselves on the back while we’re at it and let’s move on’ fiasco? Still want to cut there?

Oddly enough (but not really) there’s no mention of axing the $1.7 million city employee gym the city OK’d two years ago. So much for trimming the fat.

Then there’s Group Five where “there is a risk of a negative impact on public safety” if these cuts are accepted.

Eliminating $3 million from the roads department which includes all proposed new funding for snow and ice control.

Judging by the terrible road conditions over the past couple days this likely won’t happen. (Sorry city crews but I’m still sliding around like a mofo out there even with the fancy new street plowing technique.)

The fire department could take a $3.7-million hit but it would significantly impacting the “ability to respond to citizens and emergencies.” And finally a potential $2.17-million cut to public safety communications.

Let me know when you’ve found a politician that wants to endanger his or her voters. This won’t happen.

Regardless all the furrowing of the brows and sharpening of the pencils could be offset when the final bill for the increasingly tardy Peace Bridge comes in.