Posts Categorized: With Our Money

Budget 2016-2018: Compromise and Economise #yegcc

Edmonton City Council has just passed its first multi-year operating budget. The challenge was to limit the property tax increase for the 2016-18 years, without sacrificing the important services that keep up with Edmonton’s ongoing growth. To achieve a balance between the necessary programs and services for Edmontonians, and the fiscal reality of the regional, provincial, and Canadian economies was always going to require compromises.

The approved budget limits the tax levy increase to 3.4% in 2016 and 2017, and 4.8% in 2018. The numbers mean a homeowner with a $401,000-house will pay approximately $2,305 in 2016, which is $82 …

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City Council cuts property tax increase

City Council has reduced the amount of the 2015 residential property tax increase by not using the full “education tax room” available, an option caused by the provincial education tax increasing less than the municipal portion of the residential property tax bill.

For homeowners, the average total property tax bill will increase by 2.4%, while non-residential properties will see the tax bill increase by an average of 7.6% — for a combined residential and non-residential increase of roughly 3.3%.

 

What is the education tax room?

For residential properties, about 30% of all property taxes collected by the City go …

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“CITY BUDGET FOR DUMMIES” – 2015-2018 EDITION #yegcc

City Council has begun discussion surrounding the 2015-2018 budget.  For the last 20 to 30 years, Edmontonians have been fortunate to face little, if any, increase in their property taxes. Unfortunately, this came with a heavy price: substantially under-funded infrastructure throughout the city. Under the current Council, these infrastructure shortfalls will finally be addressed, providing improved roads, services, and facilities to city residents.

But while our city is growing, this growth puts more pressure on existing facilities – and the extra revenue generated by that growth is delayed by the timing of the tax cycle.  To fund these improvements, Administration …

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Death and Property Taxes

As this election enters its final days, there is a lot of talk about municipal property taxes.  As certain as death, nobody likes taxes.  Promising to freeze or limit them is, superficially, a popular position to take as people head to the polls.

The city has an annual operating budget for services and programs which by law must be balanced.  After taking into account other revenue sources (licenses, fines, grants, etc.), the vast majority of the revenue side of the City’s budget is made up of property taxes.  That amount is divided by total assessed property values from the year …

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We Need A Better Funding Deal With The Province

The province of Alberta’s Municipal Government Act  (MGA) is the principal piece of legislation governing the provincial relationship with municipalities – the cities, towns and villages of our province.  It sets out the framework for municipal governance, planning and development, and assessment and taxation.   In 2012, the provincial government announced a three year process for review of the MGA, which was last substantially reviewed and revised in 1995.  I believe this is one of the most important issues facing our city as many of our issues in Edmonton, when drilled down, are due to lack of funding. 

This round of …

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Debt or Not To Debt – That Is The Question

The election coverage of the past few weeks has seen a lot of discussion of Edmonton’s debt.  $2.2 billion is a lot of money, but the number alone without any context is meaningless, and denouncing it does not substitute for a vision for our city and a plan to achieve that vision.

The comparison of Edmonton to Detroit has been well rebutted.  Detroit was using debt to fund day-to-day operations, while Edmonton’s debt is for capital projects only.  It is illegal in Alberta to plan an operating deficit budget and Edmonton has a balanced operating budget.  Detroit had a shrinking …

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