Proposed budget recommends 10.9% tax hike
Edmonton homeowners will be paying 10.9 per cent more money to the city’s taxman if council approves its 2008 proposed budget as it now sits — the first double-digit tax hike since the 1970s, according to city administration.
The potential hike in property taxes means Edmonton households would be paying an average of $164 more per year for property taxes, sewage and sanitary services and waste removal.
Of the 10.9-per-cent hike, 7.7 is required just to maintain 2007 service levels in 2008, mostly because of rising city salaries and other expenses, says city manager Al Maurer.
The remaining 3.2-per-cent increase will pay for commitments already made in 2006 and 2007, including $6.1 million in tax money to retain snow-removal crews in meeting the 48-hour service level for plowing all snow routes.
Maurer says the pressures of growth and a powerhouse economy are driving up the costs of labour and construction, and even more tax hikes could be in store for homeowners for years to come if the province doesn’t provide other sources of revenues for municipalities.
"With the economy and the way it is going, and if we can’t build other revenue sources, there will be a continual requirement on the tax side," said Maurer.
"For every tax dollar that an average household pays each year, only five cents goes towards city services. The remaining 95 cents in taxes goes to the other two levels of government."
Canadian Taxpayers Federation Alberta director Scott Hennig says the proposed city tax hike is unwarranted since councillors should get back into offering core services.
"Those core services like police, fire and snow removal are not at all sexy, exciting issues, but they are what city council provides," said Henning.
"Get away from going out and finding TV shows to be filmed in Edmonton and paying them money to be here. Moves like these eventually add up."