City taxes and spending
Year after year, Edmontonians raise concerns about tax increases approved by city council. Some candidates and councillors are perfectly okay with increasing tax rates in order to fund increased spending. I am not.
Increasing taxes is not sustainable and it makes life more difficult and less affordable. This is reinforced in a report from the Office of the City Auditor released last fall, which includes the sentence: “For citizens, an increasing municipal burden means that households have less income to spend as they choose.”
That same report highlights that between 2000 and 2019, property taxes have increased from about $910 to $2,586 for a typical home. That’s a huge increase.
Another council candidate running in west Edmonton, Dave Olivier, has done some work to break down the overall tax increase since 2012 and has created a petition to cap any property tax increases to the rate of inflation. On his blog, he shows that, since 2012, property taxes have increased by 40%, which is three times the rate of inflation. This is unsustainable.
These types of property tax hikes are a clear indication that city council is overspending and not respecting taxpayer dollars the way they should. These are not free dollars. They represent your time and your work.
What does city spending look like? Well, the same auditor’s report states that operating spending between 2000 and 2019 increased by 207% and that only 125% of that can be attributed to population growth and inflation. That leaves a lot of additional spending. And a lot of that additional spending has been spent on consultants. In 2018, Edmontonians learned that the city was spending about $123 million annually on consultants between 2013 and 2017. Despite the outrage that followed, this past spring, it was reported that the amount spent on consultants in 2018 and 2019 had increased to over $134 million each year. This cannot continue.
The city auditor rightfully says in his report that, “When operating spending increases more than inflation and population, this means that the City must raise more revenue for each citizen and the cost of services may eventually exceed citizens’ ability to pay.”
When you take spending increases into account alongside a 347% increase in long-term debt, which will be paid for out of property taxes, the tax burden for tomorrow is even more troublesome. Not to mention that the higher debt we have, the more money is spent on interest payments and not on city services.
City council does not seem to understand the burden they are putting on you, your children, and your grandchildren. They do not seem to understand that they cannot continually raise taxes without negative impacts on the individuals and families who are paying those tax bills.
We need to rein in city spending and put an end to unsustainable tax increases. Edmontonians deserve better than to have less of their hard-earned dollars available to spend on the things they want. It is not acceptable to wait for an election year to have a zero per cent tax increase. If elected, I would work hard to rein in spending and lower the percentage of your income you pay in property taxes.