Edmonton's property taxes could go up 3.6 per cent in 2018
City officials say anything lower would affect front-line services
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Property taxes are likely to go up more than last year, but less than predicted.
City of Edmonton’s administration released its 2018 supplemental operating budget adjustment Thursday, which proposes a property tax increase of 3.6 per cent.
That’s higher than last year’s 2.8 per cent increase, but lower than the 4.8 per cent jump administration projected in the spring.
City manager Linda Cochrane said it’s the lowest the city can go without affecting front-line services.
“There’s still growth in the city, there’s still lots of activity and lots of expectations from citizens around the services that they have. We think we’ve done everything we can to offer the lowest possible tax increase for the kind of service levels that people are telling us they expect,” Cochrane said.
“Pre-ordained decisions on things like wage increase for collective agreements make it more than zero automatically. So to get to zero will require some affect on service, for sure.”
Officials say it would work out to an $85 increase for the average single-family dwelling.
City council still needs to debate the budget, so the number could change.
Of the proposed increase, 1.4 per cent would fund neighbourhood renewal, ending 10 years of increases to complete the program.
Another 1.1 per cent would go toward maintaining and adding new services, 1.0 per cent to police, 0.8 per cent to growth in infrastructure and services, and 0.6 per cent for the Valley Line LRT.
The jump is lower than initially expected because of $47 million in savings found by administration, which included $20 million from transferring drainage services to Epcor, the permanent removal of 35.2 vacant full-time equivalent positions, and freezing cost-of-living increments for 1,100 management staff for the second straight year at savings of $4.7 million.
Cochrane said the freeze is unfortunate, but necessary.
“It’s very difficult. Because we have people that put in all kinds of extra hours that they never get compensated for because they’re so dedicated to their jobs. And the union staff are getting the increases as per their collective agreement,” she said.
“It creates a compression problem that at some point we will have to deal with. But it’s very hard to justify an increase in salary when lots of people don’t have jobs and lots of people in other municipalities in and around our area are doing the same thing.”
Council will formally start debating the budget on Dec. 6.