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Edmonton Transit merchandise sales contemplated as city mulls budget cuts

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At least one Edmonton city councillor is on board with a staff idea to drive up revenue in an effort to offset potential budget cuts.

With most of the fat already trimmed over the past year, City Council is contemplating major reductions in an effort to get more value for the taxes residents pay, with possible cuts for valued community groups, raising certain fees and even selling Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) merchandise to bring in extra revenue.

Warn Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack says he's behind one idea put forth by city staff: the establishment of an online store to sell ETS shirts, keychains and more could bring in $25,000 a year without hiring more staff to run it.

"If that's an additional net $25,000 positive to the city, why wouldn't you do that?" Knack told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday.

The store is one of a couple dozen proposals city staff have put forward as they look for ways to free up cash to spend on transit, snow clearing and other core services without raising taxes.

"I think Edmontonians expect us to look for every opportunity to try to help cut costs and increase revenue," Knack said.

The cost-saving exercise began at the end of 2022. Council told staff to cut $60 million from the budget over four years and find another $240 million to redistribute to council priorities.

More than a year later, some of those savings have been found, but more work is needed to reach the target.

"I still feel we’re just kind of nibbling around the edges," Ward Pihesiwin Coun. Tim Cartmell said.

The biggest proposed cuts include cancelling funding for the heritage council and a suicide prevention strategy.

The city could earn more from parking enforcement or from boosting fees for naming rights on city buildings.

Cartmell doesn't think council will support those moves, however, with talks about cuts slated to continue on Friday.

"The conversations that would really truly meaningfully get us somewhere involve people," Cartmell said.

"That is the really hard conversation." 

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