Edmonton city council approved the 2022 budget with a 1.91 per cent tax increase, which is slightly higher than expected.
“I heard from many people, though, that any tax increase is too high, so tough to balance that,” Coun. Tim Cartmell said.
The tax levy increase will affect property owners differently, depending on their property’s assessed value.
The average Edmonton household will pay approximately $14.80 more in property taxes for every $100,000 of their assessed home value in 2022. Property assessments will be sent out in January.
The increase comes from a 1.45 per cent increase for municipal services, 0.06 per cent increase for the Edmonton Police Service, 0.3 per cent for the alley renewal program and 0.1 per cent for the Valley Line LRT.
Councillors approved the operating budget, which will include:
- Freezing transit fares at $3.50 (rather than adopting a 50-cent-increase) and freezing the cost of all other tickets and passes;
- $3.75 million for community investment operating grants for another year;
- Additional mechanical weed control in public shrub beds and turf-mowing;
- Support for the arts community to help recover from pandemic-related challenges;
- Covering half the fees for Business Improvement Area associations, to support their pandemic recovery;
- Reducing the planned increase to the police budget from $11.9 million to $1 million, with funds held to be allocated towards community safety and well-being initiatives.
The new mayor said it’s a balanced budget and he’s proud of the process and outcome.
“We are investing in rec centers, in facilities that will be used by generations to come. And the cost of those facilities will be paid by the generations to come through the way we are financing them,” Amarjeet Sohi said.
“We are investing in keeping our transit system affordable. We are investing in tackling social issues by having more resources go toward Indigenous-led social workers and agencies.”
Sohi said the 2022 budget will still keep taxes affordable for Edmontonians.
“Our taxes will, once the budget is approved, be the lowest in the region and the lowest among major Canadian municipalities.”
This was an adjustment to an existing budget approved by the previous city council, Sohi explained. He said he’s proud of how the new council worked together to reallocate some of the resources.
“Everything that’s going to be in this budget is going to benefit Edmontonians.
“This budget is going to make their life easier. It’s going to keep their life affordable. And it’s going to continue to enhance the quality of life and help grow our economy, help recover our businesses and our communities.”
When it comes to the capital budget, council added several projects:
- Funding for the new Coronation and Lewis Farms recreation centres;
- New transportation yard in Ambleside to support snow removal, mowing and other roads and parks maintenance work;
- Several new rehabilitation projects;
- 50th Street CPR Grade Separation Project;
- Several active transportation projects and improvements to the Valley Zoo.
This budget update will add $689 million to the capital budget for 2021 onwards, which city officials say will translate to up to 3,830 jobs in Edmonton.
“Through the passing of this budget, Edmonton’s city council has been very clear about what is most important heading into the new year. The tax levy they have agreed upon highlights the priorities that Edmontonians need most,” said city manager Andre Corbould. “I look forward to moving into 2022 with a clear mandate to support this city’s businesses and the jobs this budget will create, as the entire city of Edmonton recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
City officials said the majority of capital projects are on-schedule and on-budget, and the city is projecting it will finish 2021 with an operating surplus.
The pandemic created a budget shortfall of just over $400 million over 2020 to 2022 and the city said it’s found ways to avoid passing that impact on to taxpayers.