Sticker shock: Edmonton homeowners feeling impact of 5% city tax increase

Now that the City of Edmonton's property taxes are officially in the mail, homeowners are seeing how much more they are paying after taxes went up an average of five per cent across the city. Mason Depatie reports.

Now that the City of Edmonton’s property tax notices are being mailed out, homeowners are seeing how much more they are paying after assessments increased an average of 3.5 per cent across the city.

The overall city budget increased this year by just under 5 per cent, meaning owners are paying more.

On average, taxes are up by five per cent this year but depending on where you live, it can be a lot more.

Klaus Hoffmeier has lived in South Terwillegar for 12 years and said his latest tax bill for his single family, detached home was $4,634.

“It’s very tough to swallow. I don’t think it’s justified at all for the services that we get,” he said.

Over 400,000 notices were sent out this week, the city said, after assessments were sent in January, when property owners were told to expect a tax increase for 2023.

The assessment is based on a property’s market value as of July 1, 2022, the city said. A typical single-family home, assessed at $425,500, will pay $4,020 in property taxes.

Hoffmeier said his taxes have gone up 8.5 per cent.

“My wife and I are both on fixed incomes, we’re pensioners. And considering all the other increases that we have to experience, it’s real thick pill to try and swallow, you know?”

The City of Edmonton says property taxes pay for vital services and a typical household is paying about $8 a day for services that include the Edmonton Police Service, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, maintaining roads and removing snow in the winter, running recreation centres and other city facilities.

“All of those things cost far more today than they did a few years ago,” said Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack.

“If you go through that last four-year budget cycle from 2019 to 2022, we had property tax increases well below the rate of inflation.

“And that was at a time when inflation was substantially lower — we’re talking two per cent or less.”

Add in the low or lack of tax increases during the COVID-19 pandemic, Knack said at some point, the city had to bite the bullet in order to just maintain existing services.

“You can only artificially keep your costs down for so long.”

Knack noted the increases cover the same rising expenses and inflation costs many households are also battling, on top of regular city growth costs.

When the budget was released, city staff stressed it was a tough budget of needs, not wants.

Knack didn’t vote in favor of the budget but said increases were inevitable.

“That was likely where you had to be after the last four years of essentially below-inflation property tax increases. Sooner or later, you’ve got to catch up on that. You can’t sustain that forever.”

Knack said increases could have been higher but city and council worked hard to strike a balance between wants and needs, making sure the existing services could be maintained while also accommodating growth.

“I felt that, even as somebody that voted the way I did, that my colleagues worked incredibly hard to find savings, to find different ways to be more efficient in what we were doing, while at the same time recognizing the need for growth in the city.”

Knack said Edmonton wasn’t alone in increases and when compared to its regional counterparts, came in middle of the pack when it came to tax hikes.

“It was not uncommon, especially this year across Canada, to see municipalities raise their taxes, at least as much as the City of Edmonton did, if not far greater, and I saw that over and over again from across the country.”

Even if the explanation for the tax hike makes sense, Hoffmeier said it doesn’t make seeing the bill any easier.

The Terwillegar resident believes the city is over-spending and makes costly mistakes on infrastructure projects.

“Spend, spend, spend and then they want to come to us property tax payers and collect? There’s absolutely no thought behind it whatsoever,” he said.

For 2023, the city is also sending out an educational insert with every tax notice, breaking down where property taxes go and the per-day tax amount that goes to different municipal services for a typical household.

Roughly 74 per cent of the typical amount — or $2,982 — will help pay for municipal programs and services and 26 per cent — or $1,038 — will go directly to the Alberta government to fund education.

This year, around $2.4 billion in property taxes will be collected by the city, which said about $500 million goes to the province to cover education.

Edmonton resident Susan Hall feels the taxes are adequate for the services she receives as a resident — for now.

“We do live in Edmonton so there’s a lot of stuff to be done: snow removal, being the major one, and parks,” Hall said.

“I just don’t want them to go higher.

“I think city services are doing a decent job but there’s definitely room for improvement,” resident Maria Burakovska said. “I would definitely like to see better snow removal services during winter time.”

Property owners have a variety of ways to pay and the deadline is June 30, 2023. Owners who do not receive their property tax notice by June 5 should contact 311.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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