By Mack Male
City council is just six weeks from the start of the 2023-2026 budget process. Agreeing on the next four-year budgets could be quite a challenge, given rising costs, the need to incorporate a carbon budget and accounting framework, and this council's composition, with several new members, a wide range of priorities, and time-management difficulties.
The budget process will begin on Oct. 31 and could take until Dec. 16 if council uses all the time that has been set aside for deliberations. Most regular city council and committee meetings have been cancelled for November and December.
City council must balance the budget, as municipalities in Alberta cannot run a deficit or use debt to pay for operations. Edmonton's average annual tax increase over the past five years has been about 1.8%, which the city says is among the lowest in Canada.
Earlier this year, city council heard that maintaining existing services and paying for new projects already in motion could lead to an 8.5% tax increase in 2023. But in a preliminary discussion in early May, most councillors said they wanted to keep the increase between 1% and 5%.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he doesn't expect council will approve a steep hike.
"But at the same time, we need to recognize that as the city grows, as our expectations from city government grow, we need to have additional resources to provide those services," he said. "Whether it's building more sustainable modes of transportation, all those things are what Edmontonians want us to take action on, but we will be very responsible."
According to the city, the average household in Edmonton pays about $7.61 per day in municipal property taxes. About $1.08 of that goes to police, $0.74 goes to neighbourhood renewal, $0.69 goes to public transit, $0.64 goes to fire rescue services, and $0.29 goes to road maintenance and traffic management.