Calgary must operate like a business and behave like a service provider

“Calgary must operate like a business and behave like a service provider.”

Above all else, this statement should be the guiding principal that all members of Council and Administration follow while making any decisions when it comes to how we spend and allocate tax dollars.

A well run business does not typically spend more than it generates. Nor do well run businesses typically run deficits. Governments, including the City of Calgary should be no different.

Each year, the City collects revenue from a variety of sources such as taxes, through service charges and other levels of government. Council and Administration are tasked with allocating these funds to a wide variety programs and services.

That does not mean for one moment that those funds should not be spent wisely.

As a competent Council and Administration, it is our responsibility to ensure that we spend those tax dollars as efficiently as possible and to budget according to our means.

It is also our responsibility to ensure that if there are ways to reduce the amount that we spend, or find alternative revenues that would reduce our reliance on tax dollars, that we investigate that as well.

The Calgary Police Service, in an effort to reduce costs has begun investigating the option of voluntary contract buyouts for certain positions in ways that won’t affect the quality or level of service.

This proactive approach to cost savings is commendable and should be investigated throughout the City of Calgary.

I am currently working Administration to catalogue and understand the scope of all land and building assets that the city owns and develop a strong and long term, asset management strategy.

Part of this investigative process is to ask questions, to determine not only what the city owns, but what is the purpose of retaining and maintaining the various assets?

Does the city have any plans in the near future for that particular asset? Can the land or building be sold to the private sector so that it doesn’t burden the taxpayer and can, in-turn, inject revenues back into city projects?

These are questions that are currently being asked and would become a regular part of this strategy to determine any changes in the City’s asset holding from year to year.

Recently I introduced the concept of raising revenue for the city without using, or raising, taxes. This could be done by selling the naming rights of the various LRT stations to the private sector in return for funding.

I believe that if Council is going to work in the best interests of Calgarians, that this is an idea worth discussing.

There are many questions to ask surrounding this concept, such as:

  • How would the value of each station be determined?
  • Is there interest in the public sector for this type of initiative?
  • Who would administer this project?
  • What City projects would benefit from this initiative?

An RFI would need to be drafted and sent out to determine the answers to some of these questions.

A well run business is innovative, creative and customer focussed. The City of Calgary should operate like a well run business and behave like a service provider. The bottom line is if we never ask ‘how can we do things differently?’ we will always get the same result.