Today, Council approved the lowest tax increase in 10 years, at 2.85%
The approved 2016-2018 Operating Budget increase is made up of the following:
- .70 per cent for base budget to maintain programs and services
- 1.5 per cent for the Neighbourhood Renewal program
- 0.6 per cent for the Valley Line LRT
In 2015, when the city announced the three-year operating budget, the estimated tax increase for 2017 was projected to be 3.4%. This year, Administration proposed a conservative 3.1% increase. However, through budget deliberations Council further reduced and approved the increase at 2.85%. At a cost of $6.61 per day, the proposed budget maintains all City services, programs, and infrastructure that support the 899,477 people within our growing city.
The decrease was achieved through “Council’s 2% Initiative”, which included a subset of 122 initiatives that resulted in $34.1 million in savings--$6.1 million above the projected savings for 2017. With many Edmontonians experiencing tough economic times, this is welcoming news. And despite the slow growth in Edmonton’s economy, our population has increased by 21,521 people; up from 877,926 in 2014.
As a rapidly growing City, it's simply not feasible to expect a 0% increase--even in these current economic conditions. In the 1990's, City Council agreed to a 0% increase and to this day, we are still catching up on the deferred maintenance.
Each year, I use a benchmark calculation to formulate an approximate rate by which taxes increase. The calculation includes factors such as, population growth and rate of inflation to help determine a possible increase of the city’s taxes. For example: 2% Population Growth + 1.5% Rate of Inflation = 3.5% Increase
It is important that we continue to invest in our growing city by improving infrastructure and adding services, while practicing sound financial judgment. This can be achieved by focusing on key priorities: Valley Line LRT, Neighbourhood Renewal, and maintaining current Service Packages. By investing in our City, we not only strengthen our economic future, we also ensure a high quality of life for Edmontonians.