EDMONTON -- Council is again discussing how to give Edmontonians a zero per cent tax increase in 2021, which could mean hundreds of layoffs for city staff.

Forty-two per cent of 4,400 residents and business owners recently surveyed by the city said their personal financial situation had worsened in the past 12 months, mostly as result of pandemic.

These participants were most likely to support seeing their property tax level maintained: 45 per cent said they'd like to see a zero increase, as councillors have discussed for weeks.

Administration told councillors on Wednesday a budget which held 2020's tax levy could mean staff cuts of 347 full-time-equivalent positions, about two-thirds of which were vacant already.

The ratio of non-unionized to unionized positions in the proposed cuts "closely mirror(s)" the city's workforce, administration said. About 87 per cent of city workers belong to a union.

That morning, council also voted to postpone $3.7 million in design funding for the Rollie Miles rec centre to its spring budget talks.

In the afternoon, it was slated to hear from Edmonton Police Service on its operating budget needs, and look at four other capital budget amendments: Parsons Road's $800,000 widening, Ivor Dent Sports Park's $1.6-million upgrades, $75,000 slated for new baseball diamond design work, and $3 million in design work for the Coronation Rec Centre.

Edmonton has not seen a zero-per cent tax increase since 1997.

Council has heard the option would mean further service reductions.

According to the same survey in which 45 per cent of respondents said they preferred maintaining the 2020 tax levy, 31 per cent said they preferred a property tax increase. Another 17 per cent said they wanted taxes lowered, rather than maintained.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson