December 17, 2021
City Council wrapped up several weeks of budget discussions today, approving a number of changes to arrive at a tax levy increase of 1.91 per cent for 2022. The increase is made up of a 1.45 per cent increase for municipal services, 0.06 per cent increase for Edmonton Police Service, 0.3 per cent for the alley renewal program, and 0.1 per cent for the Valley Line LRT.
The operating budget approved by council includes the following:
- Freezing transit fares at $3.50—rather than moving forward with a planned 50 cent increase—as well as freezing the cost of all other tickets and passes.
- $3.75 million to fund the community investment operating grants for another year.
- Additional mechanical weed control in public shrub beds and an additional turf mowing cycle.
- Support for the arts community to recover from challenges related to the pandemic.
- Covering half of the fees for Business Improvement Area associations to support their recovery from the effects of the pandemic.
- Reducing the planned increase to the police budget from $11.9 million to $1 million, with funds held to be allocated towards community safety and well-being initiatives.
“We have completed our budget deliberations, and I’m proud of the process and the outcome that we’ve arrived at,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “We’ve made significant commitments to projects that will provide affordable services, create jobs, and make a difference in the lives of Edmontonians. Now is the right time to invest in our city’s future, and we have done just that with this budget.”
Council added several projects to the capital budget, including funding for the new Coronation and Lewis Farms recreation centres; a new transportation yard in Ambleside to support snow removal, mowing, and other roads and parks maintenance work; several new rehabilitation projects; the 50th Street CPR Grade Separation Project; several active transportation projects and improvements to the Valley Zoo.
This budget update will add $689 million to the capital budget for 2021 onwards, an investment that will support up to 3,830 jobs in Edmonton as the projects advance through the construction process.
“Through the passing of this budget, Edmonton’s City Council has been very clear about what is most important heading into the new year. The tax levy they have agreed upon highlights the priorities that Edmontonians need most.” said City Manager Andre Corbould. “I look forward to moving into 2022 with a clear mandate to support this City’s businesses, and the jobs this budget will create, as the entire city of Edmonton recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Council also heard updates from City Administration on the 2021 budget and the City’s continued response to the pandemic. The majority of capital projects are on schedule and on budget, and the City is well within its debt and debt-servicing limits. The City is projecting it will finish 2021 with an operating surplus, amounting to about one per cent of the tax-supported budget, demonstrating sound fiscal management, especially in light of the financial volatility caused by the pandemic. While the pandemic has created a budget shortfall of just over $400 million over 2020 to 2022—including a forecast $97 million for 2022—the City has found ways to avoid passing that impact on to taxpayers. The City has used support from other orders of government and drawn funds from reserves to offset the shortfall.
The fall supplemental operating and capital budget adjustments are part of the City Council-approved multi-year budgeting approach. It provides Council with an opportunity to update the 2019-2022 budget in response to changes in external factors, capital projects, unforeseen economic changes or Council-directed changes to priorities, policies and programs. The four-year budget originally included tax levy increases of 2.6 per cent annually.
It’s important to note that the tax levy increase will affect property owners differently, depending how their property’s assessed value compares to the market.The average Edmonton household will pay approximately $14.80 more in property taxes for every $100,000 of their assessed home value in 2022. The City will send out 2022 property assessments in January.