City Council confirms updates to 2020 Operating Budget
Expense management, program deferral and reduction in education levy results in overall tax decrease
April 29, 2020

City Council confirmed today that the combined tax levy for municipal and education property taxes will be 0% for residential property owners and a 2% decrease for non-residential property owners.

The 2020 budget absorbs financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that could have meant a municipal tax levy increase of 7.6% to address the impacts of the tax-supported revenue losses. In addition, City Council distributed the reduction in education property taxes announced by the Government of Alberta to provide relief for the business sector, in consideration of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. 

For a typical home in Edmonton valued at $387,000, this is a decrease of $28.

Each property owner will experience a unique tax change based on how their assessment value changes compared to the overall assessment change for the tax class. Generally, about half of property owners will see higher increases, while the other half will see lower increases or even decreases. 

The budget also contains adjustments to offset the net impact of lost revenue and increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, estimated at $164 million by the middle of September. 

That shortfall is primarily balanced by reducing expenses and reducing transfers from the operating budget to the capital budget. City Council also reduced their office budgets by $695,000. 

Expense reductions are a combination of project adjustments and deferrals, vacancy management, temporary layoffs and reducing spending on consultants and training.

The City’s capital construction program will proceed as originally planned from 2020 to 2022, which will mitigate the impact of further economic slowdown in Edmonton and prevent job losses in the construction sector.

Some major projects will be delayed until next year, including Bus Network Redesign, on-demand transit service pilot and the rollout of the Waste Services cart program.

The City is not using funds from the Financial Stabilization Reserve to offset the COVID-related challenges at this time.

As the pandemic response unfolds, the City Administration will gain a better understanding of the financial impacts to the organization and may return to City Council in the summer and fall to address emerging financial impacts of COVID-19. 

Property tax notices will be mailed on May 21 and are due in June, but this year, late payment penalties on unpaid taxes will not be charged until September 1, 2020. This applies to both the education and municipal portions of the tax bill for residential and non-residential properties. “We believe that this is an important option to offer to those who have been financially affected by the pandemic crisis,” explains Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin. “But I ask all property owners who can pay their taxes on time to please do so to help keep City services running.”
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