Edmonton economy woes wallop city hall revenue: report

The Pride flag is raised outside Edmonton City Hall on Friday, June 7, 2019.
The Pride flag is raised outside Edmonton City Hall on Friday, June 7, 2019. Courtesy: Twitter/City of Edmonton

A sluggish economy has taken a bite out of Edmonton City Hall revenue, according to a report released on Friday.

Revenue for the planning and development branch is 28 per cent below what was budgeted for 2019.

The planning and development branch, which issues building permits, has been hit hard by a dramatic construction decline.

“In 2019, there has been an increasing downturn in construction activity across the province (both residential and non-residential), and a substantial amount of supply already on the market in Edmonton, which has resulted in lower than expected planning and development revenue,” reads a city-generated report that’s heading to Monday’s executive committee.

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It points to a decline of 22 per cent in building permit applications compared to a year ago.

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“During the first quarter of the year, this lower construction activity has created a year-to-date revenue shortfall of $4.8 million, which is 28 per cent below budgeted Q1 revenue. This is $3.1 million (or 20 per cent) less than March 2018 year-to-date revenue,” the report reads.

Revenue from user fees, fines, permits and other sources totalled a little over $59 million last year, but is only projected to reach $48.6 million, according to revised estimates.

The reserve grew by more than $10 million last year, however, this year, it’s anticipated they’ll have to dip into the reserve by $8.4 million based on new estimates. Based on the budget passed just last November, city council anticipated only withdrawing $2.7 million, an indication as to how quickly the situation worsened.

The trend is expected to continue through this year and next. City staff are revising the forecast and adjusting how they do business by making internal changes to reflect the 28 per cent shortfall. Those adjustments will be explained to executive committee on Monday.