Nenshi calls it ‘expected’ budget considering big revenue shortfalls

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the provincial budget is what he was expecting, considering the massive amount of lost revenue for the government.

There is no commitment to share the cost of the Green Line LRT, but the mayor says it’s a long term funding project he believes will be worked out.

“Now if they want to give me a cheque next year for the whole thing, I’ll happily take it. But I’m also realistic of both the provincial and federal governments income right now,” he says.

He notes there is a lot of funding going into provincial projects such as local schools, hospitals and the ring road. The budget sets aside $940 million for post-secondary schools including Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary, and $2.9 billion for Calgary and Edmonton’s ring roads. However, Nenshi says he’s less than pleased with yet another delay getting the money for the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.

“The problem here is the province has already spent the money. Most of it on the West LRT so everytime they extend the repayment, that leads to tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in interest expense,” he says.

Nenshi says the province needs to think through how to exempt municipalities from the new carbon tax. He estimates the cost of fueling city vehicles will rise from $2.6 to $6.5 million. That amounts to a half point increase on Calgarians’ property taxes.

“Police cars and fire trucks and garbage trucks and buses have to be out there. So as a result, it likely be the only thing to do is go to the taxpayers with that, and I don’t think that’s the province’s intent here, ” says Nenshi.

The mayor applauded the government’s $892 million commitment to build new affordable housing units, and said it’s a stimulative measure that should happen now that construction prices are going down.

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