Edmonton’s city council got a chance yesterday to get a glimpse of what next year’s budget could look like and it’s not sitting well with some councillors.

City administrators presented a guideline report that calls for a three per cent tax increase for the 2011 budget that comes with $22.4 million in service cuts, hiring freezes and adjustments to revenue including a hike to transit fares.

The cost cuts and shifts in revenue were necessary to avoid an 8.5 per cent tax increase, say administrators.

“I am very uncomfortable about increases to transit fares at a time when we are encouraging people to use public transit,” said Coun. Amarjeet Sohi during yesterday’s city council meeting. “It’s going to curtail some of the growth that we are seeing.”

Roughly 2.1 per cent of the hike will be set aside for the city’s police service while 0.9 per cent is slated for all other city services, said the report.

The report also calls for changes in services, including the elimination of close to 30 vacant positions. That’s on top of a two per cent hike that’s slated for the city’s neighbourhood renewal projects — something that’s already been approved by city council.

A hike in taxes, however, should be higher than three per cent, said Coun. Dave Thiele, who added the city still needs to maintain its services after a number of infrastructure projects were built in the city.

“We’re sadly mistaken that three per cent will move us forward into the future as an operational budget,” said Thiele, who lobbied for a five per cent hike.

A new council will debate the 2011 operating budget in November, one month after the civic election.

“I am sure a new city council will have an interesting debate on this,” said Coun. Kim Krushell during the meeting.

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