The City of Edmonton is dealing with uncertainty around economic growth and funding as it plans the operating budget for the next four years.
That was the picture painted by city staff during a council meeting Monday, as they presented the operating budget for 2023 to 2026 to council for the first time.
To maintain the same level of services as the last few years, the city would need to raise taxes by nearly three per cent each year. Higher expenses have been found in rising fuel costs for transit and fleet vehicles and higher interest rates.
To balance the budget and keep the tax increase lower than the rate of inflation, the city is trimming fat where it can and considering raising revenue for services like transit and recreation facilities, though staff acknowledge people may not be able to afford the increased rates.
Staff is also recommending reserve funds be used and big, visionary projects be deferred to later years.
Ward Métis councillor Ashley Salvador said she is worried climate investment is taking a back seat.
“I worry that if we don’t start now we’re actually not going to have enough runway to do what we said we needed to do,” said Salvador.
“It’s kind of like we’re running away from something and if we don’t run fast enough the game is going to be over before we begin.”
City staff conducted a survey asking Edmontonians which services were most important. Snow removal, transit service and emergency services were top of the list.
In the proposed budget, property taxes would increase by just under four per cent each year until 2026.
The city said the increase means a household would pay approximately $718 for every $100,000 of their assessed home value in 2023 — an increase of $27 compared to 2022.
That means for a typical single-family, detached home assessed at $400,000, the 2023 property taxes would be about $2,872.
Public hearings will take place on Nov. 28 and 29. The council will undergo more thorough deliberations from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16.