Edmonton operating budget cuts could jeapordize jobs

Edmonton may cut $60 million over four years which could eliminate redundant staff and middle and upper management positions.

Edmonton may cut $60 million over four years which could eliminate redundant staff and middle and upper management positions.

‘We’re not talking about eliminating front-line services’: Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

Edmonton City Hall

Edmonton is looking at streamlining management, finding redundant positions and analyzing fees paid to consultants to reduce spending $15 million each year.

The reduction a multi-pronged amendment to the 2023-26 operating budget that council approved Tuesday night.

All amendments to Edmonton’s $7.75-billion capita and operatingl budget and need final approval from council. The operating budget for services and programs in 2023 is $3.2 billion.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the $60 million involves a review of all programs and services, city-wide.

“We’re not talking about eliminating front-line services,” Sohi told news media.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi

The amendment mandates administration to decrease spending each year by a minimum of $15 million by “exercising hiring restraints into non-frontline vacant positions,” the amendment reads.

Sohi said administration will review early next year and report to council on a regular basis on proposed areas to cut.

“It will look at streamlining the management, it will look at layers of accountability within the organization,” Sohi said. “It will look at redundant positions that exist within the organization that may be no longer be needed.”

The review will examine fees and the city’s use of consultants, he added.

In a press release Wednesday, president of Civic Service Union (CSU 52), which represents about 6,800 workers in technical, professional, administrative, and clerical jobs, Lanny Chudyk, said he’s pleased the city will evaluate the management structure.

“The City of Edmonton has far too many levels of management in too many departments,” Chudyk said in the release.

Edmonton city hall

“This comes at a cost to front-line staff who are overworked and understaffed, which impedes on their ability to serve Edmontonians efficiently and effectively.”

Others see the $60 million review as cutting jobs.

Coun. Aaron Paquette said he doesn’t support decreases in staffing.

“We just passed a massive cut to our workforce which I am personally not convinced it’s not going to be without repercussions,” Paquette said to council.

“I will absolutely not support any more cuts to the people that we’re asking to do more and more and more with less and less and less.”

Coun. Erin Rutherford proposed decreasing the budget of the Expanding Diversity and Inclusion program by $253,000 in 2025 and coming years, which was defeated 6-7.

With amendments passed so far in capital and operating budgets, the property tax increase would rise to 5.1 per cent in 2023.

Jodi Graham, director of budget planning and development in financial corporate services, calculated the tax levy would increase 5.5 per cent in 2024, 4.29 per cent in 2025 and 4.47 per cent in 2026.

Other omnibus amendments include $11 million for enhanced snow and ice removal, $11.9 million in permanent funding for on-demand transit service, $3.9 million for 24/7 Crisis Diversion, and expanding the base budget for Explore Edmonton by $5 million.

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