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Edmonton’s 4-year operating budget proposes 3.3% tax hike next year

Click to play video: 'A look at potential property tax increases for Edmonton over next 4 years' A look at potential property tax increases for Edmonton over next 4 years
WATCH ABOVE: City administration has released the four-year proposed operating budget, which projects a 3.3 per cent tax hike in 2019. However, Mayor Don Iveson said he's committed to getting that number below three per cent. Sarah Kraus has the details – Nov 2, 2018

City administration has released the proposed four-year operating budget, which suggests a 3.3 per cent tax hike for Edmontonians next year.

The proposed tax increase in 2019 is more than what city council originally anticipated. Mayor Don Iveson said his goal is to bring the proposed increase down below three per cent.

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor unveils 5-point plan for city’s ‘toughest budget in a decade’

The proposed 2019 budget would provide services to the average Edmonton household for $6.96 per day — or $2,540 per year — an increase of $79 over 2018, according to the city.

“I think we were all hoping for a lower number,” Councillor Bev Esslinger said Thursday. “That’s what we’ve heard from Edmontonians and I’m committed to trying to get us there.”

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The 2019 proposed increase breaks down as follows:

  • 1.7 per cent for police
  • 0.7 per cent for general services, which is below inflation
  • 0.6 per cent for Valley Line LRT
  • 0.3 per cent for back alley and laneway upgrades

The budget covers 2019 – 2022 and the proposed tax increase drops each year after 2019.

READ MORE: LRT, Yellowhead, fixing roads mean big numbers for Edmonton capital budget

Watch below: (From Nov. 2, 2018) With the numbers in, the debate is now underway on just how much Edmontonians should pay in property taxes over the next four years. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Click to play video: 'Debate underway over how much Edmontonians should pay in property taxes' Debate underway over how much Edmontonians should pay in property taxes
Debate underway over how much Edmontonians should pay in property taxes – Nov 2, 2018

In 2020, the proposed tax increase is 2.7 per cent, with police not taking as big of an increase. A flat two per cent-increase is proposed in both 2021 and 2022. During those years, police will see their increase rolled back to one per cent.

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Councillor Michael Walters has asked for details on the per capita full-time equivalent (FTE) ratio in Edmonton compared to other cities.

“It feels to me like our answer to every question is one more staff person. We have to really start addressing that. I think the sacred cow is probably our FTE count and we have to begin to figure that out,” Walters said.

“My position going in is I’m going to be hard pressed to support any staff increases at all until the program and service review is done. In fact, my goal is to come in under three (per cent) so it’s going to be a set of tough conversations for sure.”

READ MORE: 2018 Edmonton tax increase set at 3.5%

A public hearing will be held on Nov. 15, followed by deliberations among members of city council. The final version of the budget is expected to be set by council in late 2018.

The release of the operating budget comes on the heels of the release of the city’s capital budget. This is the first time city administration has developed proposed four-year capital and operating budgets in the same year, according to CFO Todd Burge.

“This helps us look further and plan better for our future and offers flexibility to adjust to changing priorities or economic circumstances,” Burge said.

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The operating budget deals with the day-to-day costs required to run the city, including maintaining roads and public transit. Police, bylaw and fire rescue services are also included in the operating budget.

The city’s capital budget is for the infrastructure the city builds, such as roads, bridges and rec centres.

More information on both budgets can be found on the city’s website.

With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED.

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