The city has set the opening tax increase for next year’s budget and it’s lower than first intended. Edmonton councillors will be asked to approve a 3.6 per cent tax increase.
That’s 1.4 per cent less than forecast when council last crunched the numbers in April.
A report released Thursday ahead of next Tuesday’s council meeting says city finance staff have been able to chop more than $47 million in savings.
Some of the cost savings came from moving drainage to EPCOR, giving the city the increased $20-million dividend to fund a one per cent budget increase to police to cover inflation and growth.
Staff reductions are part of the savings, as well, with more than 35 vacant full-time positions being dropped. Management is taking a pay freeze for the second year in a row.
Of the 3.6 per cent tax increase, only 1.1 per cent goes to maintain current city services.
City officials are crediting “greater than targeted operational cost reductions.”
“We have been able to maintain all city programs and services for $6.77 per day in municipal property taxes paid by the typical household,” city manager Linda Cochrane said. “All areas of the city worked hard to identify millions of dollars in savings and efficiencies. At the same time, administration is sensitive that the outlook is for lower and slower growth and it will take time for many in our city to adjust to the new normal.”
Other lines in the budget include 1.4 per cent for the neighbourhood renewal program, 0.6 per cent for the Valley Line LRT and 1.0 per cent for the police.
There’s some sports news in the budget, too. The city isn’t paying the Oilers Entertainment Group $2 million a year for a box rental at Rogers Place. However, taking on the Northlands Coliseum and Expo Centre is costing the city $1.5 million.
“Council’s actions today and in the past have well-positioned the city to manage the current economic downturn without affecting programs and service,” chief financial officer Todd Burge said.
“The proposed budget adjustment maintains existing services, manages changing revenue forecasts with cost reductions, provides inflation and growth funding to EPS and continues investments in neighbourhood infrastructures and LRT.”
Edmontonians are encouraged to learn about the budget by visiting YEGcityBudget.ca.
The 2018 supplemental operating budget adjustment will be presented at the Nov. 14 council meeting.