Councillors suggests cutting cannabis costs to slash tax hike
Councillors say legalization was not as problematic as they expected it to be, which is why they suggest cutting down on related costs in an effort to bring down the property tax increase.
At the operating budget deliberations on Monday, councillors are looking into ways to reduce the tax hike and one suggestion is reducing police and bylaw enforcement costs for cannabis legalization.
Currently it costs between $5 to $6 million a year to have additional police and bylaw officers patrolling streets to enforce the smoking bylaw, which prohibits people from smoking within 10 metres of buildings and bus stops.
The 2019-2022, $4.3 billion capital budget proved to be a tight one, leaving no wiggle room for councillors to fund a number of projects. The operating budget proposes a property tax increase of 3.3 per cent for the next year to cover costs of Valley Line LRT, cannabis legalization and Edmonton Police.
Councillor Ben Henderson said before legalization they expected a crisis, which is why they increased bylaw enforcement and looked into hiring more officers, but says that’s not what happened.
“You know it’s a little bit like Y2K. Everybody imagined crisis coming when cannabis got legalized,” he said. “I don’t think that’s happened.” Councillor Ben Henderson said officials had expected a crisis prior to legalization.