Edmonton City Council approves 2.85% tax hike for 2017

The Edmonton skyline on Monday, December 8, 2014. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

A tax hike of 2.85 per cent has been approved by Edmonton city council, a lower increase than what was originally proposed and the lowest tax increase in a decade, according to the city.

The 2017 tax hike sat at 3.1 per cent but after the city got rid of some of the “nice to haves,” a 2.85 per cent tax increase was approved on Tuesday.

For the typical household, the city said the property tax increase amounts to $66 in 2017 and $120 in 2018. The city defines a typical household as a single-family dwelling with an assessed value of $408,000.

“This budget represents a balanced and efficient approach to city building while making investments in both people and infrastructure,” Mayor Don Iveson said in a statement Tuesday. “That’s not an easy feat when you consider 2016 has brought more economic uncertainty to our region and with it, the demands placed on the City of Edmonton have increased.”

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The city said 0.6 per cent of the tax increase is earmarked for construction costs for the Valley Line LRT expansion.

READ MORE: Mayor seeks assurance on Edmonton LRT timeline after Bombardier concerns in Toronto

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Some of the projects that didn’t make the cut when it comes to city funding include an Edmonton museum project, cash for someone to catalogue the city’s art collection and a continuation of the Nuit Blanche festival.

“There were also some items that council didn’t see fit to fund now. They may come later once the economic situation improves,” Iveson said Friday following budget deliberations at city hall.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton proposes 3.1% tax increase for 2017

Efforts to grow and diversify the economy gained support from the city, with funding approved for economic development to bring in more meetings and conventions. Funding to help kick-start a plan to get 10,000 people out of poverty in the next five years was also approved.

“It remains our imperative to grind down the tax levy wherever possible,” Iveson said. “City staff have done a fantastic job of realizing efficiencies.”

The Art Gallery of Alberta also received an addition $250,000 in funding, which is excepted to go into developing a new admissions model. The art gallery said it could lead to more free admission days.

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The savings found by the city are also being used to pay for more firefighters at three different fire halls, to increase funding for the problem properties tax force and the Nikaniw Indigenous Youth Leadership Program.

Iveson and the other members of council will see their pay go down by about two per cent next year, as per the terms of their compensation package. Iveson said he hasn’t heard a single councillor complain about the salary reduction.

The 2017 property tax increase is one of the lowest in recent city history.

Watch below: This year’s budget deliberations may be over but it appears pressure is already mounting on Edmonton city council for 2018. As Vinesh Pratap reports, it’s coming from an area that already uses a massive amount of tax dollars.

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Police chief says more officers needed soon for Edmonton



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