City releases 2018 operating budget update
Proposed property tax comes in lower than predicted
November 9, 2017

The City released its 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget Adjustment today, proposing an increase of 3.6 per cent to the average property tax bill — 1.4 per cent lower than expected when Council last reviewed the numbers in April 2017.

The budget has been offset in part, thanks to more than $47 million identified in greater savings and efficiences — nearly $15 million more than last year. The document has been published on the City of Edmonton’s webpage. Citizens are encouraged to review the details, ahead of council’s budget deliberations on December 6.

“We have been able to maintain all City programs and services for $6.77 per day in municipal property taxes paid by the typical household,” says Linda Cochrane, Edmonton City Manager. “All areas of the City worked hard to identify millions of dollars in savings and efficiencies. At the same time, Administration is sensitive that the outlook is for lower and slower growth and it will take time for many in our city to adjust to the new normal.”

The proposed tax increase breaks down as follows:
  • 1.1 per cent to maintain and add new services, up slightly from a 1% increase last year but down from 2.5% in 2016.
  • 0.8 per cent for growth in infrastructure and services
  • 1.4 per cent to fund Neighbourhood Renewal, ending 10 years of increases in the operating budget to ramp up and fully fund the program.
  • 0.6 per cent increase for Valley Line LRT
  • 1.0 per cent for Edmonton Police Services.

The increase was reined in despite three-year salary settlements that added another 1.5 per cent to operational costs and declining revenues from transit and recreation facility user fees. For the second year in a row, there will be no cost-of-living increment for management staff, which helps offset the budget by as much as $4.7 million.

The budget adjustment includes an additional $20 million from the EPCOR dividend, the equivalent of a 1.3 per cent reduction to the tax increase. The dividend was higher this year due to increased revenue from the transfer of drainage services to EPCOR.

The Ed Tel endowment fund principal has grown from $465 million to more than $815 million, with more than $705 million paid in dividends to fund capital projects.

Since 2010, more than $300 million has been saved by delivering services more effectively and improving operations

The City removed 35.2 vacant full-time equivalent (FTE) positions permanently from the budget. Most of the 52.7 FTE positions proposed for next year are for staffing new fire halls and other facilities.

This marks the end of the three-year operating budget cycle and the first full multi-year budget cycle since Council adopted this approach in 2015. A multi-year budget forecast provides more certainty for planning, but the flexibility to make supplementary adjustments throughout the cycle as conditions change.

Edmonton’s economy changed drastically since the beginning of the three year cycle, when a collapse in oil prices was deeper and more sustained than expected. Still, the economy continues to grow and Alberta’s capital city has weathered the economic storm better than many places in the province.

The City maintains a cautious approach moving forward. Similar to last year, the Supplemental Operating Budget Adjustment proposes a property tax increase that takes into account only the most urgent service needs.

“Council’s actions today and in the past have well-positioned the City to manage the current economic downturn without affecting programs and service,” says Todd Burge, the City’s Chief Financial Officer. “The proposed budget adjustment maintains existing services, manages changing revenue forecasts with cost reductions, provides inflation and growth funding to EPS and continues investments in neighbourhood infrastructures and LRT.”

Edmontonians are encouraged to learn about the budget by visiting The 2018 Supplemental Operating Budget Adjustment will be presented at the November 14 Council
For more information:

Proposed 2016-2018 Operating Budget:
Overview and Budget Primer:

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Communications and Engagement