Recap of Budget
On Tuesday November 28th, Budget deliberations concluded at City Hall and City Council agreed on a property tax levy increase of 6.6 per cent in 2024, 5.3 per cent in 2025 and 4.7 per cent in 2026.
This is a terrible outcome, one I am not at all happy with.
But this is not the end of the conversation.
City Administration has pledged to have significant savings ideas for Council to debate in mid-February.
Council will receive the final 2023 financial statements in April, which will tell us how big of a deficit we have.
There will be another budget amendment session in April, after which the final tax rates will be determined.
It is absolutely imperative that Administration identify and Council approve those savings to provide some tax relief and reallocate dollars to core City services.
So why aren’t those savings ideas available now?
A $50M deficit is projected in 2023 which must be repaid starting in 2024. That deficit is a result of declining transit revenue, increased utility costs, increased police funding and salary settlement pressures.
The financial pressures of inflation and labor settlements are not behind us yet. Administration needs to keep enough money available to pay back this year’s deficit and not create another deficit next year.
I agreed that Council needed to give Administration more time to find savings, and some of my colleagues agreed to wait and see those savings before suggesting more spending.
One of the more distressing outcomes of this budget is the lack of support of several of the City’s external partners. Edmonton is the sole shareholder of Explore Edmonton and the Fort Edmonton Management Company, and is required by law to provide funding support to the Greater Edmonton Foundation, as just 3 examples. These organizations clearly outlined their critical needs to City Council, and funding was not provided. We must find a way to reallocate funding to our municipal owned corporations.
What about the $240M in savings that Administration was already directed to find?
Well, they haven’t completed the work yet. And to be fair, their focus shifted to this year’s budget adjustment and deficit.
The 2024 budget could have been cut and Administration instructed to simply go find the money. But there is no guarantee that Council would agree with Administration's decision. This year’s decrease then becomes next year’s increase.
Again, the conversation continues in April. We have effectively kicked the budget conversation down the road a few months, when we will have more clarity. It's not a great outcome, but it's the best we have for the moment.
In the coming weeks, there will be some important events that I encourage you to attend:
🗣️Open House for the Terwillegar Drive Expansion: I invite you to attend the upcoming Terwillegar Drive Open House the evening of December 5th. This will be a great opportunity to get updates on the Project. More details on the open house are as follows:
- Date: Tuesday, December, 5th, 2023
- Time: 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
- Location: St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 210 Haddow Close (Terwillegar Drive and 23rd Avenue)
❄️ Christmas Open House with Councillor Cartmell: I would also like to invite you to my Open House the afternoon of Sunday December 10th. I look forward to connecting and discussing the outcome of the 2024 Budget as well as other important topics such as the Zoning Bylaw Renewal, transit safety and other important topics. No RSVP required! Details are as follows or you can click here for the event page:
- Date: Sunday, December 10th, 2023
- Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
- Location: Ridge Community League Centre (2111 Haddow Dr NW, T6R 0W6)
🗣️In-Person District Planning Sessions: The District Planning project is developing 2 new planning tools to guide how 15 districts (collections of neighbourhoods) will redevelop and change as Edmonton reaches its next population milestone of 1.25 million people. City Administration is hosting the following in-person engagement sessions:
- Thursday, November 30: 5 to 8 p.m. at Queen Alexandra Community League Hall (10425 University Avenue), RSVP here.
- Saturday, December 2: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at City Hall in the Heritage Room (1 Sir Winston Churchill Square), RSVP here.
Should you be unable to attend the Open House on December 10th, please feel free to share your comments or questions with me by contacting my office via email ([email protected]) or by calling 780-496-8130.
Thank you and I hope to see you at the Open House on Sunday December 10th at the Ridge Community League Centre!
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