Laying the Foundation for a Smart Budget
This fall, Council will be discussing the next four-year budget. When considering major budget decisions, we must ensure that it lines up with the City’s goals for a thriving and livable future. Our decisions must be evidence-based and consider people’s and businesses ability to absorb further tax increases. I wrote about this previously.
Further to that, I believe it is paramount that our decisions are driven by four main factors/questions:
- How does the budget align with our city vision and established goals?
- How does the budget increase business competitiveness and ensure that we remain an investment-friendly city?
- How does this budget make Edmonton more livable and vibrant?
- How does it support a healthy corporate culture, effective service delivery and effective governance. (I’ll write more on this in a later post.)
These factors must catalyze our conversations to build a foundation conducive to a vibrant, thriving city.The City Vision was just brought to Council, outlining how Edmonton will grow over the coming years - building a city people want. A city that’s livable, vibrant, and attracts young people. A city where those young people can get jobs and start businesses, can impact their economy and neighbourhoods, and increase the vitality of the city in which they live.
Those four factors are invaluable to Edmonton and how the city functions, but Edmonton can’t thrive without a solid foundation in the budget for investments, businesses, and development. Without these values at the core of our budget talks, we’ll miss the mark on building a better, thriving city. Edmonton is growing, building, and expanding in every possible way. But those three drivers must be the catalyst of our budget discussions this fall, above everything else.
I want to emphasise question #2 for a moment. I’ve been making motions for the last three years aimed at increasing Edmonton’s investment friendliness, business competitiveness, and livability. Those motions include:
- A call to the Administration to speed up permit wait times to 30-45 days.
- A motion for the Administration and stakeholders to benchmark Edmonton’s business climate competitiveness in comparison with other global cities our size and recommend how we can become more competitive.
- Asking for an examination of the effect stacked (municipal, provincial, federal) taxes have on small and medium-sized businesses. This report is coming to Executive Committee on October 10th.
- A motion for Administration to identify Edmonton’s investment readiness of industrial land to grow our non-residential tax base.
Council has been working on these areas over the last while, and will continue to do so as we move more deeply into budget deliberations. The next few months will be transformative in the way Edmonton operates and grows. The three areas -investment friendliness and business competitiveness, livability, and our overarching city goals - must be driving factors of the budget. However what’s most important, and what we strive towards, is ultimately a city that is thriving, vibrant, and livable for young people making Edmonton their home. As we move toward the 2 million mark and Council lays out the next four years, that must always be our goal.
Your thoughts on this topic are invaluable, please take the City of Edmonton's survey on the budget here.