City council has formally approved a 3.4 percent property tax increase, that when combined with the provincial education tax hike, it means home owners will be paying 4.1 percent more.
Quite often the council vote is unanimous, but this time there was one dissenter, Coun. Michael Oshry.
“Now that things have changed and the amount of money we’re getting from the province is different I was hoping we could go back and try to talk with administration and see if we could come up with point six,” Oshry told reporters. “It wasn’t a ton of money so I think it was plausible to go back and find it somewhere.”
City council grinded the budget down to a 2.8 percent increase during its debate in December. Then things changed with the provincial budget, skewing Edmonton’s numbers up.
“Scooped up by another order of government, so what can you do?” said Coun. Mike Nickel who usually plays city council’s “Dr. No.” “We did our part and they took it away. I can not contain my frustration beyond how I feel about the comedy of the situation.”
Twenty million dollars worth of grant money was given to the city last year. Council decided to use that grant to help fund neighborhood renewal, but then April 14, that grant was taken back by the Notley government. It’s worth roughly .6 of a percent.
“Rather than us going back into the budget and debating and trying to find that money internally, we just sort of added it on to (bring it to) 3.4, so I was against that,” Oshry said. “At the end of the day it’s going to be 4.9 because of the provincial part but I thought we should have gone back to save that extra .6 somewhere else.”
“What it would have done is it would have forced us to go back and look at different things,” Oshry said about some December votes that might have gone differently, although when asked he couldn’t pinpoint any decisions he would have changed. “Based on the fact we assumed the rest of the money was going to come from the province we didn’t do that.”
Mayor Don Iveson said it wasn’t worth reopening several decisions. 3.4 percent was an original target, so he’s happy the adjustment still fits that. “Hindsight is what it is. But the province very clearly said here’s $20 million last year, we used that for neighborhood renewal and then it went away again, which no one could have anticipated.”
“One thing that’s incredibly solid is we don’t want to slow down neighborhood renewal. I don’t think we had much of a choice, or otherwise we’d have to tell a neighborhood, ‘you know what? you’re moving back in the line,’ and council was quite clear that we didn’t want to do that,” Iveson said.
For the so-called typical house valued at $408,000, the property taxes will amount to about $3,265 a year, made up of about $2,302 for the municipal side and $963 for the provincial education tax. The increases are $58 for municipal, and $69 for the provincial tax increase for a total of $127.
The tax notices will be mailed to all property owners May 24 and the payment deadline is June 30.
This news release has a table to show how much the city and the province raised taxes.