City taxes are on their way up this year and Edmonton’s low-income residents are footing a big share of the bill.
More than 300,000 property tax notices were dropped in the mail on Friday, some which may force those in areas traditionally inhabited by people of a lower income looking for a new place to call home.
“I’m not exactly sure where people could go,” said Rod Risling, branch manager for city taxation services. “We have to reflect the value of the property of neighbourhoods.”
Put simply, if the property value on a home rose substantially within the past year, the homeowner’s taxes are going to skyrocket as a result, whether or not they are selling and generating profit off the increased value.
The Rundle Heights area in the city’s northeast end, an area with a large concentration of lower-income individuals, is seeing the greatest tax increase, at an average of 25.6 per cent.
“It’s got to be tough for some people, but that’s why we’ve got some of those programs out there,” Risling said, adding that the city has alternatives to assist seniors with payments, as well as a monthly payment plan for all taxpayers.
Officials from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation feel that the method of gathering taxes is missing the mark, though city officials have guaranteed the average increase will only be 7.5 per cent.
“This is squarely on the backs of city council,” said the federation’s Alberta director Scott Hennig.
“They’re going to try to blame the market value assessment system. They know how it worst, but yet they don’t care that it’s going to hurt some individuals.”
Laura Marvan has lived in Riverdale for 41/2 years, and expects her rates to skyrocket to around 30 per cent this year. After a 53 per cent increase last year, she said she has no plans to move, but can understand how low-income families could feel pressured.
“If you want to be someone who lives in the neighbourhood and raise your kids here, it’s a lot of extra money. It’s hard,” she said. “There is added pressure to sell your house and get out. If you can’t afford the taxes, it’s time to move on I guess. It’s changing our neighbourhood for sure.”