December 6, 2017 10:03 pm
Updated: December 7, 2017 1:35 pm

Edmonton property tax hike set at 3.2% for 2018

A file photo of Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton.

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UPDATE: The property tax increase for 2018 will be 3.2 per cent. The budget was passed by city council on Thursday.

City council is making quick progress on the 2018 budget.

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Councillors got some good news to kick off the process Wednesday afternoon when they began making amendments. Just as they began, they found out they had another $7.7 million to work with because of some pension changes at the provincial level, with the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP). It’s equal to a half-a-percentage point on the property tax increase, dropping it to 3.1 per cent from 3.6 per cent.

“We’ve been working on it for most of the year,” chief financial officer Todd Burge told council. “The unions — all the big plan participants — have been working closely with the LAPP on this.

“We needed the province to actually give official approval.”

Mayor Don Iveson told reporters at the end of the first day of debate, the city will likely wind up at “3.2 or 3.3 per cent,” which means for a so-called typical home worth $397,000, the taxes would go up $89 to a total of $3,013.

Thursday’s debate will resume with a discussion on increasing turf maintenance for Edmonton’s sports fields.

Iveson said considering the entire budget is $2.7 billion, when it comes to spending more to take care of dandelions, “I think council will make a reasonable decision there.”

The mayor is floating an idea to flip the Coliseum land, that triangle north of 118 Avenue, to a private developer.

“I suspect that the quotes we get for demolishing the building might be higher than the quotes the real estate community might get.”

Iveson said the city would still be in control of the new development through the zoning process, however, having a private developer carry the load in the early stages would lead to demolition sooner rather than later, which he insists the neighbouring communities would prefer over having a boarded-up building.

READ MORE: Northlands to offer public one last glimpse of Coliseum ahead of January closure

Watch below: One of the big items for Edmonton councillors in this budget debate centres on the future of Northlands Coliseum. Fletcher Kent filed this report on Dec. 6, 2017.

Iveson also confirmed that because of “complexities,” Edmonton would not bid for the IAAF World U-20 Track and Field Championships, which would have been held six weeks prior to the ITU World Triathlon.

“We had some conversations of a political nature and it just became clear to me that there’s more work to do before we’d be able secure both events, and I’m not sure that work can get done in the time allotted.”

“We’re disappointed,” organizer Jerry Bouma said in a phone interview after the news broke,”but we totally understand the situation. We appreciate that resources are scarce and we have to accept that.”

Bouma said restraint on the provincial level was inevitable with the current fiscal situation.

The city is encouraging the local organizers to bid with the IAAF in the next cycle of events.

“2020 is not going to be in the cards and would they be receptive to us re-applying for 2022? It’s too early for me to say how they would respond,” Bouma said.

READ MORE: 2 sports groups closer together on 2020 Edmonton events than first thought

Council postponed a decision on hiring 25 new police officers for the annexation of lands from Leduc County until the new year.

READ MORE: Iveson asks for ‘rational’ request from Edmonton Police Service to deal with annexation plans

Watch below: With Edmonton annexing land in Leduc County, the police service is looking for more police officers to help cover the new area. Quinn Ohler filed this report on Nov. 6, 2017.

It will continue debate Thursday morning, and is expected to finish the 2018 budget before the week is out.

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