PROP­ERTY TAXES

As oil industry slows, lo­cal res­i­dents fear ris­ing prop­erty taxes

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Front Page - Lucy Haines

The taxes col­lected by the city from res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­er­ties ac­counts for about half of the rev­enue needed to pay for es­sen­tial ser­vices like po­lice and fire pro­tec­tion, neigh­bour­hood in­fra­struc­ture, pub­lic tran­sit, parks and road main­te­nance.

In 2017, Ed­mon­ton’s res­i­den­tial tax rate stands at 8.5 per cent, up from 8.0 per cent the pre­vi­ous year. As part of Ed­mon­ton’s Fi­nan­cial Sus­tain­abil­ity Plan: The Way We Fi­nance (a 10-year strate­gic plan that out­lines poli­cies on such top­ics as prop­erty as­sess­ment and tax­a­tion), cit­i­zens have used pub­lic hear­ings to weigh in, with the city eval­u­at­ing con­cerns.

The city’s chief econ­o­mist, John Rose, says a slowed econ­omy has caused a drop in prop­erty val­ues. “Com­mer­cial va­cancy rates are go­ing up, and that de­presses com­mer­cial prop­erty val­ues. Re­sale res­i­den­tial prices year-over year are down too, but it’s not a col­lapse. Over­all, there is still mod­est growth of 1.5 to 2 per cent pro­jected for Ed­mon­ton,” he says.

In 2017, the city’s to­tal tax­able as­sessed value is $115 bil­lion for res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties and $54.7 bil­lion for non-res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties and apart­ment build­ings, pro­vid­ing $1.5 bil­lion in tax rev­enue for city ser­vices.

The up­com­ing elec­tion means cit­i­zens are as­sess­ing the value they get for the prop­erty taxes they pay. “Peo­ple are con­cerned that prop­erty taxes are go­ing up and up, but so is unem­ploy­ment,” says Ward 9 can­di­date Tim Cart­mell. The bustling area of the south­east has some of the fastest-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion in Ed­mon­ton. “There are a lot of res­i­dents re­cently un­em­ployed from the oil patch, and they want to see their tax dol­lars go fur­ther,” he says.

“House as­sess­ments are higher here, but where’s the value for the taxes we pay?” asks Ward 9 can­di­date Sandy Pon, point­ing to traf­fic con­ges­tion, trans­porta­tion and in­fra­struc­ture as key con­cerns for the boom­ing area’s res­i­dents.

House as­sess­ments are higher here, but where’s the value for the taxes we pay? sandy Pon, Ward 9 can­di­date

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Res­i­den­tial taxes are re­cy­cled back into es­sen­tial ser­vices like po­lice and fire pro­tec­tion, but res­i­dents are ex­press­ing their con­cerns over the ever in­creas­ing prop­erty taxes in a city where unem­ploy­ment con­tin­ues to rise.

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