Podcasters unpack 8.9% property tax increase

Podcasters unpack 8.9% property tax increase

· The Pulse

Edmonton City Council's decision to approve an 8.9% increase to property taxes "shocked" the hosts of Episode 261 of Speaking Municipally.

"What typically happens is administration throws up a bigger number, (and) council gets to knock it down a little bit," co-host Mack Male said. "They get to feel like they did their best and tried really hard to try to save some money. We still get an increase, but they look a little bit better for it."

In fact, the opposite happened. Administration proposed a rate of 8.7% for the spring operating budget adjustment, an increase of 2.1% from the 6.6% figure council endorsed during the fall budget adjustment. Council, however, then voted to approve three additional adjustments, which added $5 million to the overall budget. These account for the additional 0.2% increase. The additions fund work for downtown optimization, event attraction, and snow-clearing assistance.

"It strikes my credulity that council can ask administration to find these hundreds of millions of savings, and yet council is not able to find a couple million dollars here or there in a $2 billion budget," co-host Troy Pavlek said, alluding to the major cost-cutting measure known as OP12, which council has directed administration to undertake.

Coun. Tim Cartmell voted yes on all three new adjustments. He also introduced successful motions that ask administration to calculate the impact of reducing neighbourhood renewal spending by 25 to 35% annually and to identify options to reduce tax-levy impacts from the 2023-2025 capital budget.

"He was quick to point out in his comments about (the capital budget motion) that he's not talking about bike lanes," Male said. "But of course, introducing this motion, he's creating the conditions by which council could re-litigate that $100 million for bike lanes."

Hear more about budgets and taxes, the Edmonton Police Service's 2023 deficit, an anonymous letter sent to Premier Danielle Smith alleging impropriety by council, how new provincial bills could affect Edmonton, Speaking Municipally Live: Untangling the housing knot on May 30, plus more on the April 26 episode of Taproot's civic affairs podcast.

Photo: The City of Edmonton's spring operating budget adjustment includes a higher-than-projected 8.9% property tax increase thanks to a lack of cuts by council and three newly funded adjustments.