I believe Edmontonians want their Mayor and Council to continue to invest in important and bold things. I also believe that they want a Mayor and Council that is committed to fiscal discipline and using tax money wisely.
How we spend is an important discussion in any campaign. Some of my opponents have labelled any attempt at spending restraint and cost control as austerity and the return to the 1990’s era of poor asset management and no new infrastructure.
This is just bluster.
We have been and I will continue to be committed to making important and smart investments in the infrastructure that helps grow our economy and shores up our quality of life. I’ve committed to doing so with my proposed infrastructure plan.
Now what we need is to focus on fiscal discipline in order to take the pressure off our residents who have been hammered by the pandemic and off of our local business community where so many entrepreneurs are struggling to stay afloat.
We have a $3.1 billion budget to work with. We simply cannot ask people to add to that right now. We need to hold the line in 2022. I am committed to this.
This will mean hard choices.
- We need to hold the line on salaries for our employees.
- We need to review our capital plan and determine what can be done less expensively, differently or put on hold.
- We need to reduce the size of our workforce to be more in line with other big cities across Canada who deliver almost identical services with far fewer employees. This means scaling back middle management and staffing in lower priority areas.
- We need to get out of land development and shift all of those administrative costs to the private sector immediately - this will also help us realize the value of land quicker, and get areas like Blatchford on line to being net tax generators, not just cost centres.
- We need to rely more on community partners and cost sharing for projects. City Hall does not need to do everything.
- We need to hard scrub duplication of services and reignite the Program and Service Review that I started in 2015 to find the efficiencies I know are there.
- We need to fully implement a Priority Based Budgeting approach to determine which services are most important to our citizens and to Council. When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. We need to focus.
These are important steps that I am committed to uniting our new city council around.
Additionally there is so much important work that we need to do in terms of regional collaboration, reducing the size of our development footprint, diversifying our economy and improving our relationship with the provincial government that will ultimately improve our financial situation over the long run.
But fiscal wellbeing begins with smart spending. There are important steps we can take. I am committed to taking them.