December 13, 2019
Council concluded budget discussions today, deferring several projects to arrive at a tax increase of 2.08 per cent for 2020, the lowest rate in more than 20 years.
The 2.08 per cent tax increase is made up of:
- 1 per cent for Edmonton Police Service as part of the dedicated funding formula
- 0.8 per cent for LRT expansion
- 0.28 per cent for growth in infrastructure and services
The Government of Alberta’s fall budget had decreased 2020 operating funding to the City by $26 million and the 2019-22 capital budget by $183.4 million.
The 2020 budget first proposed in November was recommended at a 2.6 per cent tax increase. That proposal absorbed reductions that came as a result of the recent provincial budget, but Council made further reductions of $9.3 million to the operating budget. As a result of the provincial capital funding reductions and further project deferrals made by City Council, a total of just over $500 million was reduced in the 2019-2022 capital budget, including deferral of the Lewis Farms Recreation Centre.
“This is a budget about restraint, rather than austerity,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “Many Edmontonians feel the stress of this economic downturn, which is why Council and Administration have worked hard to balance the imperative for restraint without losing the momentum our city needs to keep growing.”
The Mayor went on to say, “We made cuts where we could without overcorrecting, we’re preserving front line public services while pressing for fair settlements with our labour unions and we are confidently continuing with catalytic projects like LRT expansion. We will continue to build a city we can be proud of, that can attract talent and investment, and continue to help drive Alberta’s economy.”
Reductions from the Government of Alberta included the elimination of the Alberta Community Transit Fund. While several City projects had been planned based on using the fund, Council voted to proceed with only part of the list, including upgrading Terwillegar Drive to an expressway and upgrades to the Stadium LRT Station. These will be funded through borrowing.
City Council also confirmed work on the Valley Line West and Coronation Recreation Centre will continue, but chose to defer construction of Lewis Farms Recreation Centre.
Council decided to push the 2020 tax levy that funds the alley rehabilitation program to 2023, reflecting the budget needed to implement the program over the next 3 years. This allows public engagement, conversations with utilities and other planning work to be completed. In addition, 311 will move from round-the-clock service to a 12-hour service and will adjust to a 60-second call-answer standard, as recommended by a recent program and service review.
The travel and training budget for City staff will be reduced by just under $1 million and Administration will further reduce the budget by an additional $1.6 million through a variety of workforce strategies.
“Our financial circumstances have changed, so we have adjusted our plans,” said Adam Laughlin, Acting Deputy City Manager of Finance and Corporate Services. “We are still working toward the future. Our pace for working toward our goals has changed, but this budget still represents a major investment of $3 billion in Edmonton in 2020 to enable better lives for all Edmontonians.”