Podcasters ponder what's properly part of proposed tax increase

Podcasters ponder what's properly part of proposed tax increase

· The Pulse

City administration's proposal to increase 2024 property taxes from 6.6% to 8.7% might be traced back to a tax freeze during the pandemic and the provincial government's unpaid property taxes, the hosts of Episode 259 of Speaking Municipally said.

"I think that maybe council and administration will look back and regret the 0% tax increases during the pandemic because now you just have to catch up, catch up, catch up," co-host Stephanie Swensrude said. "Every year when there's that 6, 7, or 8% tax increase, the people are not happy, and they will not remember the 0% back in 2020."

Both hosts stressed that property tax increases can be difficult to understand, as many conflate the city's operating budget and capital budget. For example, in a "don't read the comments" moment, co-host Mack Male mentioned the reflexive criticisms about the $100 million earmarked for active-transportation infrastructure in the capital budget that immediately followed news about the potential 8.7% increase. As Male pointed out, that project increases the operating budget by just $1.9 million over four years.

Male paraphrased Ward papastew Coun. Michael Janz's comments about the province's unpaid municipal bill, noting that it could reduce property taxes once paid.

"Municipalities like Edmonton — but across the province — have been frustrated with changes that the province has made, and how they are not indeed paying their tax bills," Male said.

In an unrelated discussion, the pair examined the challenges Hudsons Canada's Pub on Whyte Avenue is facing. Recently, the city told the restaurant that it cannot rebuild its patio in the same way it had before now that three years of sidewalk construction is complete. Instead, the patio may need to go directly beside Whyte's busy street traffic. Swensrude said she has a source at city hall who says this is "getting worked out." But Swensrude also wondered what other patio issues could result from the Old Strathcona Public Realm Strategy.

Hear more about this, drivers driving in bike lanes, transit-oriented development, a report on Edmonton's nighttime economy, and more on the April 12 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: City of Edmonton administration proposes increasing property taxes by 8.7% in 2024.