As oil industry slows, local residents fear rising property taxes
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
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.