News / Edmonton

Council approves tax hike to fix Edmonton's deteriorating roads, sidewalks

The average Edmonton household can expect to pay an extra $31 per year

Council reinstated the Neighbourhood Renewal plan on Tuesday.

Metro File

Council reinstated the Neighbourhood Renewal plan on Tuesday.

The average Edmonton household should expect to pay an extra $31 in property taxes in 2017, after council voted Tuesday to reinstate the neighbourhood renewal program.

Council's approval is part of the city's ongoing budget discussions. They will determine the property tax hike and which public projects will be funded. 

The neighbourhood renewal program, which lets city workers fix crumbling roads and sidewalks in Edmonton, is expected to cost less than $170 million per year.

The bump is part of an overall tax hike of 3.1 per cent this year, which works out to be an extra $72 total per average household. 

The neighbourhood levy will be 1.5 per cent in 2017 and 1.4 per cent in 2018.

The city failed to qualify for grants from the province and feds for the program, so it chose to fund it. 

In 2015, council chose not to issue the tax hike due to tough economic times.

But Mayor Don Iveson told reporters Tuesday the tax hike is needed to keep the program on pace for completion.

He said the total program will cost less than before, adding the tax makes up just about half of the total property tax hike, which is 3.1 per cent.

“If citizens expect this infrastructure, there is no other way to pay for it,” he said.

Coun. Mike Nickel told council he’s received numerous complaints over contract management on the renewal program. 

He requested administration better gauge citizen satisfaction.

More than 300 communities in the city require renewal, which will likely be completed in 2039. 

Council also voted to let administration provide recommendations on other projects Edmonton can fund. 

The city has $5 million it can use to fund some these projects, which in total request $9.6 million, meaning some will get the axe. 

The projects include funding for the End Poverty initiative, annexation, Nuit Blanche support, a grant to the Art Gallery of Alberta,  and the University of Alberta arena, among others. 

But council can also use the $5 million to reduce the tax rate increase. 

A public hearing will be held on Dec. 8 so citizens can weigh in on the operating budget. Dec. 9 is when final decisions will be made.

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