Apr 30, 2020

Property Taxes and COVID-19

Property Taxes and COVID-19

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has had an impact on personal and corporate finances around the world. The City of Edmonton’s budget has been impacted too. 

I worked hard this week to advocate for common-sense, practical solutions to reduce our spending, set a fair tax rate for ALL, and protect services and investments that make our city a great place to live.

This is not an easy balance but the solution was not in an unequal tax rate between business and homeowners. More on this below.

Like I discussed in my last email with you, the pillars that I focused on during this frankly unprecedented budget conversation are job supports, community solutions, and the local economy.

Local Economy

The approved budget strategy is:

1. Reducing expenses through common sense and temporary changes like reducing travel and training, and reducing Councillor’s budgets by 10%. We also reduced the number of consulting contracts, which I called for several months ago when it came to light that the City spends $600 million on consulting services.

2. Council voted to increase your municipal tax rate, from 2.08% to 2.5% in order to reduce the business tax rate to 0%. I voted against this increase. I believe that asking residents to pay more, at a time when we are all stretched thin, is not fair. Know that your councillor suggested a practical alternative that wouldn’t ask homeowners to pay more. The clock ran out before this better option could be explored deeper and I am disappointed that time wasn’t taken to reflect on the impacts this will have on homeowners.

Here is a clip of me asking questions about our tax rate during this week’s budget deliberations. Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin is answering my questions.

Community Solutions

For years the North East has felt forgotten and ignored. I stepped into this position to advocate for Ward 4 and bring the resources we need to the NE. There were suggestions during budget deliberations this week to cancel or defer Neighbourhood Revitalization projects.

There are two neighbourhoods in Ward 4 that are slated to be revitalized very soon. Gambling with their future when we have all done so much work would be irresponsible and short-sighted.

Communities rely on new sidewalks, pothole repair, community connection, and beautifying measures. These are community solutions and offer good jobs. That is why I advocated successfully to keep these revitalization projects on the table. Here is a clip of me during the budget deliberations speaking about the importance of revitalization:

Job Support

Now is not the time to look backwards, but to look to a new future for Edmonton and a community we are all proud of and can afford to live in. The city’s plan to recover from COVID, and my work over the past seven weeks, focuses on our local economy and good jobs. 

One of the recommendations this week was to reduce the tax rate to 0%. Getting everyone’s tax down to 0% would require cuts to major infrastructure projects that provide countless jobs for Edmonontians, and spur growth in our economy after COVID-19.

Simply put, playing politics with tax rates means that we jeopardize the sustainability of our financial future, and kneecap recovery efforts when we all come together again.

If you have suggestions and ideas for and how we can Respond, Relaunch, Recover, and Reimagine our city after COVID-19, please email me at aaron.paquette@edmonton.ca.