City’s op­er­at­ing bud­get pro­poses tax in­crease of 3.3 per cent for 2019

StarMetro Edmonton - - EDMONTON - KASHMALA FIDA Steph Wech­sler Carolyn Jarvis Mike De Souza

The city’s op­er­at­ing bud­get is propos­ing a prop­erty tax in­crease of 3.3 per cent for next year in or­der to cover the costs of, among other things, the Val­ley Line LRT, cannabis le­gal­iza­tion, and Ed­mon­ton po­lice. This means a $79 in­crease for a typ­i­cal Ed­mon­ton home­owner with a prop­erty val­ued at $397,000.

The city re­leased the pro­posed 2019-2022 op­er­at­ing bud­get on Thurs­day, and it calls for an­nual rev­enue and ex­pen­di­tures of $2.98 bil­lion next year, in­creas­ing to $3.27 bil­lion in 2022. The doc­u­ment goes to coun­cil on Nov. 7.

City man­ager Linda Cochrane said the cap­i­tal bud­get — re­leased last month — and the op­er­at­ing bud­get are part of “our over­all com­mit­ment to imag­in­ing, main­tain­ing and an­i­mat­ing Ed­mon­ton.”

“This bud­get bal­ances our as­pi­ra­tions for con­tin­ued growth with the re­al­ity of fis­cal and eco­nomic con­straints.” The Al­berta En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor is apol­o­giz­ing for a “stag­ger­ing” pre­sen­ta­tion, made last Fe­bru­ary by one of its high­es­trank­ing of­fi­cials, that warned the prov­ince’s oil­patch that it could be sitting on an es­ti­mated $260 bil­lion in fi­nan­cial li­a­bil­i­ties.

The li­a­bil­ity es­ti­mate fac­tors in the costs of shut­ting down and clean­ing up oi­land-gas sites at the end of their use­ful­ness. That in­cludes in­ac­tive wells, pipe­lines and tail­ings ponds in the oil­sands.

Premier Rachel Not­ley noted that the prob­lem was sig­nif­i­cant.

She said the li­a­bil­i­ties would be hard to ad­dress amid the “big­gest oil price drops in gen­er­a­tions,” adding that com­pany prac­tices have im­proved, but af­ter decades of buildup, the ex­ist­ing prob­lem is “not one that we can fix overnight.”

The de­tails of the pre­sen­ta­tion, made by the reg­u­la­tor’s vice-pres­i­dent of clo­sure and


li­a­bil­ity Robert Wadsworth, riled up the Al­berta and fed­eral leg­is­la­tures when made pub­lic in a re­port on Thurs­day by Na­tional Observer, Global News, the Toronto Star and StarMetro Cal­gary.

The es­ti­mated li­a­bil­i­ties Wadsworth cited in his Fe­bru­ary

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