City manager reports progress on expense-trimming

City manager reports progress on expense-trimming

· The Pulse

The City of Edmonton's administration is well on its way to finding $60 million in spending cuts over the next four years, says city manager Andre Corbould.

"I would say we're definitely on track with the timeline. I'm sort of 90% sure I've got the first $15 million sorted out," Corbould told Taproot. "I've got about half of that figured out for the second, third, and fourth year."

The cuts are in response to the budget amendment known as OP12, in which council directed administration to find $15 million per year in savings without affecting essential services.

The amendment also directed administration to identify another $240 million over the four-year cycle that could be reallocated to priority areas. That will be more challenging, and it will require input from city council.

"Some of the next big work that we'll present to council is the result of the analysis of what's a core service and what's not a core service," Corbould said. "I believe we're somewhere in the order of 30 or 40 services reviewed out of the 170."

Council will ultimately decide which services to deem as core, but the public input gathered ahead of last year's budget deliberations will be considered, Corbould said.

"While we're not starting a fresh, new public consultation on this … we're hearing what the public has said and following a lot of that as we push through these ideas and examine them," he said.

Corbould also said the recent departures of deputy city managers in communications and employee services are not related to OP12, but hiring has been reduced by about 10%.

"I've termed it 'hiring restraint' because 'freeze' means you don't do anything, and we're not frozen — so it's a pretty important distinction," Corbould said.

Corbould will update council on OP12's progress in May, with the next major financial milestone expected in the fall budget adjustment, something he is already working on. Meanwhile, city council finalized the 2023 property tax increase of 4.96% after approving the spring adjustments to the operating budget.

Hear commentary on Corbould's progress report in Episode 217 of Speaking Municipally, which also takes a look at provincial funding for policing through HELP; changes to council's relationship with the Edmonton Police Commission; and funding for the Bike Plan.

Photo: City manager Andre Corbould, seen here at a news conference in June 2022, spoke to Speaking Municipally's Mack Male about progress so far on spending cuts. (City of Edmonton/YouTube)