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Finance Minister stresses the need for municipal spending restraint

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In the shadow of 40 positions lost at the City of Grande Prairie through attrition, layoffs, or budget calculations, Finance Minister and Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA Travis Toews says the “rightsizing” of the public sector is just an unfortunate part of restrained budgets.

“We all, whether it’s municipalities or the province, over time and in a thoughtful way, learn to deliver more efficiently and effectively, and in some cases find a way to deliver with a smaller public sector.”

What’s been termed “restructuring” led to the laying off of a multitude of City of Grande Prairie employees. The cuts came just one day after Grande Prairie city council approved its 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets. Roughly $6 million had to be slashed in order to reach a residential property tax increase of 1.25 per cent.

Earlier this week, Grande Prairie City Manager Horacio Galanti said he understands the need for restraint, but the reality of the situation around the city has also changed.

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“The reality today is different compared with 2006 to 2008 years where the city experiences high growth and higher property taxes were generally accepted.”

Toews, meanwhile, says he understands the problems municipalities are facing. However, he says all levels of government are facing a new reality together.

“Many municipalities find themselves in a similar situation to the province, where we have had years of prosperity, where we have been an outlier in the country in terms of incomes and certainly government revenues. We no longer are the outlier in the country.”

Toews was in Grande Prairie Friday morning as part of a budget review tour with members of the business and political community.

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