Looking ahead to big budget season

The City’s four-year operating and capital budget plans are being discussed in a few months, and going into this season, I want to outline some important factors that we all must keep in mind when discussing something that impacts every single citizen, business, and property across our city.

As a Council, we are always amidst competing tensions to grow our city. On one hand, we want to build, provide new services, and better our community as a whole. On the other hand, however, these opportunities have a big fiscal impact on our budget and impact taxation. We must, above all else, be lean and responsible with the budget. While it’s important to densify and build, it is paramount that we as a Council remain acutely aware of the inefficiencies and areas in the budget that can be cut to reduce tax burdens on Edmontonians. This is why I have high expectations that our current program and service review will yield useful information about efficiencies and ways to reduce costs and/or improve services.

While we go into deliberations this November, I plan to keep citizens such as Lilly from Lansdowne in mind. Lilly, a senior, who bought a home in Lansdowne fifty-four years ago, and because of the property assessment model, her taxes have become increasingly burdensome every year. This is the story for many residents of Edmonton - especially in older neighbourhoods.

I’ll also be keeping businesses and entrepreneurs at the front of my mind in budget deliberations. Local businesses like Good Stock, which help to revitalize places like Petrolia Mall, are bringing some much-needed vitality to communities and are important keep at the forefront of conversations surrounding the budget. Tax increases year after year can and do have an effect on these businesses. They even affect businesses we haven't heard of yet, where entrepreneurs crunch the numbers and wrestle with the notion of even starting the businesses communities yearn for. Situations like these can be counter-productive to Edmonton’s small and medium-size business growth that will otherwise add vibrancy to our communities. This is why I made a motion to understand the city’s role in what it costs to do business in Edmonton.

As a Council, we need to balance off these tensions of spending versus growth. While we should be vigilant in our spending and fiscally lean, we must continue to build our city to attract and retain young people and provide good services for all Edmontonians. 

Next blog will be in August on the big questions facing 2019-2022 Operating Budget.