Calgarians ask me on a regular basis about my view on how the City operates. What services should The City provide? How can The City be more efficient? How can we get better value for tax payer dollars? How do we ensure that vulnerable Calgarians are taken care of? My response is, “The City of Calgary should operate like a business but behave like a service organization”. What exactly does that mean? It means that The City needs to find efficiency and run a responsible budget in everything that it does. The City must also offer programs and services to Calgarians that may not have obvious financial returns to The City. By finding this balance The City can operate from the head while still acting from the heart.
I have strongly advocated for lower taxes and better value for the tax payer dollar. Recently the Manning Foundation discussed findings from their Calgary Council Tracker. The chart below shows that I voted to hold the line or make reductions on spending when given the opportunity 60% of the time in 2014.
I believe that Council has an obligation to direct The City to operate like a business, and my record on spending and taxation reflects that. The Manning Foundation report also showed a comparative analysis of tax restraint from 2014 versus 2013. The approach that I have taken on taxation and spending has been very consistent and balanced as you can see from the chart below:
This data above is fascinating, but we do need to go deeper than the numbers when we evaluate Council’s performance. The City must also operate like a service organization. There are instances where we need to increase spending on projects that contribute to the growth and well being of Calgary. Many of these projects cannot be quantified by an economic price tag. It is much more difficult to measure the socioeconomic impact of a project, but considering the social angle is a critical role for The City. Programs like accessible transit, affordable housing and public programs are not areas that the City makes money, but they are critical services that The City must provide. Without spending from The City many of these programs would not exist and vulnerable Calgarians would be put into a compromising situation.
The City must be in a position to grow our communities and provide the facilities and services Calgarians deserve. We must take forward projects to build multi-use recreation centres, improve our transit infrastructure and develop new communities that are well thought out and appropriately planned. Projects like the Seton Recreation Centre and the Green Line SE Transitway are critical components for the future of Calgary. We need to move forward on projects like this to create the building blocks for a better connected Calgary that grows stronger communities.
During my time on Council I have prided myself on bringing a very balanced and consistent approach to the issues. Many of the issues that we deal with are not simple black or white issues. It is my belief that partisan politics should play no role in municipal government. I measure every issue and proposal that Council debates on its merits, not on who brings an item forward. I may not agree with my Council colleagues on every issue, but I value their perspectives and take the time to understand both sides of every issue. This balanced approach ensures we make responsible decisions while looking out for the interests of all Calgarians.
Calgary is a terrifically governed city with a strong regional economy and a very high quality of life. We have many advantages, but we cannot ignore areas where improvements can be made. We can work harder to reduce wasteful spending and find efficiency within The City while still providing world class facilities and services. We can move forward by operating like a business and ensure we leave no Calgarian behind by behaving like a service organization.