City council gave the go-ahead yesterday for a property tax increase that will see most homeowners shell out an additional 7.5 per cent, or roughly $153, this year.
Though Mayor Stephen Mandel voted in favour of the increase, he said it wasn’t with full satisfaction.
In fact, property taxes will be rising by 11.9 per cent, but will be offset by the provincial education levy, which only went up 4 per cent.
“If we’re going to use the school’s tax dollars, we should have probably used them as one-time dollars and we’re not doing that,” he said. “The administration is put in a difficult position. I understand what they’re trying to do this because there are challenges everywhere we look in the city for growth.”
Mandel said that while understanding how all the dollars make sense is fairly cut and dried to members of council, many homeowners will be left with puzzled looks on their faces upon reading their 2008 property tax bill.
“It’s very confusing and is also very challenging for the city because we have a single source of revenue,” Mandel said.
The city generates the majority of its revenue through grants, user fees, business and non-residential taxes.
About 15 per cent of annual revenue is obtained through the collection of property taxes.
The city assessed that in 2007, property values in Edmonton rose at an average of 65 per cent.
Though property values don’t determine the annual tax increase, city planners told council that if a property’s determined value falls above or below the 65 per cent increase, the homeowner’s tax increase will fall above or below 7.5 per cent accordingly.
“There needs to be a change in the allocation of funding so cities can meet the demands of citizens, not just through property tax,” Mandel said. “We need a share of income tax or other avenues.”