Edmonton calls out the dandelion troops and approves 3.2 per cent budget hike

City council embraced a new eco-spray for dandelions Thursday and approved a property tax increase that — if the neighbourhood renewal levy is removed — is roughly equal to inflation.

After more than a decade of steep increases, Mayor Don Iveson said this budget is now in line with how he wants to see budgets come in for the future, especially since Edmonton’s crazy labour market has now calmed.

“We’ll hopefully land increasingly close to general inflation in the future,” Iveson said after council voted unanimously for both the capital and operating budget adjustments.

Chief financial officer Todd Burge say the city is looking at inflation pressures of 1.7 per cent in 2018.

The 2018 tax increase will come in at 3.2 per cent. That’s made up of 1.4 per cent to fully fund the neighbourhood renewal program without external grant funding, and 1.8 per cent for all other growth and inflation-related pressures on the city budget.

A 3.2 per cent tax increase is equivalent to an additional $77 for the typical or median homeowner with $397,000 in property value. That homeowner would pay $2,462 in municipal taxes, or $3,013 if you include fees for city-run utilities and garbage collection.

The neighbourhood renewal initiative started 10 years ago after residents in mature neighbourhoods grew frustrated with crumbling sidewalks and roads.

Council voted to create a special levy for the rebuilding work, rather than relying on unpredictable federal and provincial grants. Now several neighbourhoods per year go through the program, rebuilding some and resurfacing others to ensure they never get to that crumbling state.

After 2018, no new increases will be needed to fund that program. It will continue with an annual $155-million tax contribution.

The 2018 budget is the last of a multi-year budget process. In one-and-a-half days of debate, council spent the longest time on dandelions …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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