Council Reduces Planned 2011 Tax Increase to 3.85%
December 09, 2010
City Council has passed the 2011 Operating Budget, reducing the tax levy increase from the 5% target they set in June to a 2.35% property tax increase for civic services, plus 1.5% to continue the Neighbourhood Renewal Program.
A typical Edmonton house (assessed at $330,000) would see a tax increase of about $5 a month for people on a payment plan, or $60 for 2011. The final tax rate will be set in the spring after the Province announces the Education Tax. Utility fees for City-run operations of waste management and drainage will increase about $38 for the year or $3.13 a month.
“The budget process has been successful in identifying cost reductions and efficiencies, as well as enhancing investments in services that are clear priorities for Edmontonians,” said Simon Farbrother, City Manager.
Council enhanced funding in a variety of projects for 2011, including $1.5 million to support community league building rehabilitation, $2 million for Edmonton Arts Council initiatives, $578,000 for the Homelessness Initiative, $900,000 for the façade improvement program, $300,000 to support Scona Pool operations, $136,000 to open those libraries that had been closed on Sundays between September and May, $462,000 for more grass mowing on public spaces, and funding of $583,000 to enhance transit service in growing communities.
The impact on the typical Edmonton household is displayed in the attached chart.
Administration used Council’s strategic plan – The Way Ahead – to guide short-term budget strategies that allow the City to meet the original tax target of 3% for services, while keeping on track for long-term goals. One of the most significant challenges in the operating budget is the debt servicing to finance the recent transformational infrastructure investments in Edmonton. Administration was able to adjust revenue and costs to achieve more than $50 million in net savings in the 2011 budget to help manage debt challenges in a fiscally responsible manner.
In December 2008, Council planned a three-year tax-funded strategy to rebuild and maintain mature neighbourhoods. The Neighbourhood Renewal Program involves a combination of total reconstruction in some areas and preventative maintenance in others. The program benefited more than 20 neighbourhoods last year, with work on roads, sidewalks and streetlights. The program is supported by a tax increase in 2009, 2010 and 2011 to build a sustainable fund for renewal. In 2011, a 1.5% dedicated tax will support the program. The 2011 program will benefit more than 20 mature neighbourhoods throughout Edmonton.
When factoring in federal and provincial taxes, less than 4% of a typical Edmonton household’s total taxes fund City services such as police, transit, parks maintenance, snow clearing, firefighters and recreation centres.