The City of Red Deer was put on the spot about its spending during a Twitter question-and-answer exchange with city hall’s top number cruncher.
Chief financial officer Dean Krejci took to the social media platform at noon Tuesday to field questions from the public about the city’s COVID-19 operations borrowing bylaw.
Earlier this month, council voted to boost its borrowing ability to $40 million from $30 million in response to anticipated pandemic financial pressures.
The city invited residents to ask questions on Twitter.
Reg Warkentin, the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce’s policy and advocacy manager, asked, “Whenever city spending comes up, CFO Krejci and several councillors constantly talk about service cuts as the only response. Businesses constantly manage to do more with less in tough fiscal situations. What is the city doing to deliver services more efficiently?”
Whenever city spending comes up CFO Krejci and several Councillors constantly talk about service cuts as the only response. Businesses constantly manage to do more with less in tough fiscal situations. What is the city doing to deliver services more efficiently?
The city responded that it had included “efficiencies and innovations” in its budget process for several years.
“We have also not provided an inflationary increase to the departments in the last 10 years, forcing them to work more efficiently.
“We also continue to invest in new technology and equipment to work more efficiently. With council direction to ensure zero per cent tax increase for the 2021-2022 budget, this continues to be a priority.”
One Twitter user was clearly perturbed at the city’s financial future.
“Ouch. $40 mil in the hole by September,” tweeted Mark Gilroy.
The city pointed out the additional cash flow was needed to “continue providing essential services.”
Ouch. $40 mil in the hole by September. https://t.co/mKQGLXERPT
— Mark Gilroy ⚡️🖥️💾⚡️ (@MarkGilroyAB) June 30, 2020
The additional $10 million line of credit is like an overdraft on a personal chequing account, says the city.
“(I)t’s there for extenuating circumstances; use what you need — pay interest on what you use — pay back when you can. One difference: we have two years to pay back what we’ve used.”