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6.6%: Edmonton approves tax hike of about $17/month for average homeowner


Property tax bills won't be as high as initially feared – thanks to some modest hacking and slashing by city councillors – but Edmontonians will still have to pay more next year.

Just before noon Tuesday, Edmonton city council approved a 6.6 per cent tax raise for 2024, down from the 7.09 per cent that was proposed by city administrators.

Councillors met for several days as part of the fall budget adjustment process – which also foresees a 5.3 per cent increase in 2025 and 4.7 per cent in 2026.

"Making budget decisions is challenging at the best of times, let alone in the middle of an affordability crisis," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

"But we must maintain city core services, make investments that help support our city as it continues to grow and make it one of the best places in Canada to live."

Sohi said the increase in 2024 will amount to $17 more a month for people who own an average home valued at $425,500.

"Seventeen dollars per month, in my mind, is not an insignificant amount of money that people will pay in higher taxes," he said.

"But I think investing in public transit, investing in public services, will save low-income, middle-income Edmontonians, students and seniors hundreds of dollars."

The tax bill that owners receive is based on the value of their properties, and assessments are sent in January, but the city said people should expect to pay $747 for every $100,000 of home value.

The capital budget adjustments passed by a vote of 11-2, with councillors Jennifer Rice and Karen Principe voting against. The operating budget passed 12-1, with Rice opposed.

The capital budget increase of $105 million includes $15.8 million for 20 new diesel buses, $22.9 million for affordable housing, and $15.3 million for new police equipment and cell service in LRT tunnels.

A $16-million boost to the operating budget includes more bus service hours, an improved encampment response, expanded library service in Heritage Valley and more money for Edmonton's anti-racism strategy.

"6.6 is not a great number. It is not a number I have comfort with. It is not a number I support," Coun. Tim Cartmell said before the vote.

"6.6 per cent with modest increases in some services and big losses in others is not acceptable. We need to reallocate."

Cartmell later explained to reporters that while he voted for the fall budget adjustment because he likes the investments in it, he still wants to whittle away at the 6.6 per cent increase before the final tax bills are mailed out.

"I support the 1.5 per cent today. I still don't support the 5 per cent from last year and I want to see that changed," he said. He'll try to do that during spring budget adjustments.

"I'm being patient and waiting for my opportunity in April, 6.6 should not be where we finalize this."

Coun. Andrew Knack pointed out that Edmonton has grown by 70,000 people in the past two years and many municipalities across the country are approving higher tax hikes.

"Even with this increase we're talking about, Edmonton is still by far and away the most affordable major city in all of Canada and we're going to continue to attract large numbers of people every year. And that is going to have a huge impact on the cost to operate our city," he said.

Pandemic budgets that saw a 1.8-per-cent increase one year and a freeze in another, Coun. Aaron Paquette stated, did not keep up with inflation and population growth and set the stage for today's decision.

He said even when taxes were frozen, he received letters from upset residents who wanted a rollback.

"It doesn't matter what the tax rate is, people are not going to like it. People don't like paying taxes, it's that simple, and I get it," Paquette said.

Like Cartmell, Sohi said he will try to find more savings and reduce the 2024 increase even further when councillors meet for spring budget adjustments.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson Top Stories

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