The City released its proposed 2016-2018 Operating Budget today, something that Council will start discussing in the days ahead.
“The City of Edmonton’s proposed 2016-2018 Operating Budget recommends a 4.9 per cent general property tax increase in 2016 for all civic operations. Similar increases are proposed for the budgets in the second and third years. The proposed budget holds the tax increase for all civic operations to 2.5 per cent.”
For the typical household (a single-family dwelling with an assessed value of $401,000), that would mean an increase of $109 in 2016, $114 in 2017 and $120 in 2018.
Photo by City of Edmonton
The City says it has “restrained base operating costs” and has found some savings as part of Council’s 2%:
“The City’s efforts to find efficiencies and innovation has identified $29.9 million in operating savings or cost avoidance for 2016. Of that, $10.1 million is being made available for Council to reallocate to areas of greater priority.”
Here’s my look at what Council will be discussing in the week ahead.
Meetings this week
You can always see the latest City Council meetings on ShareEdmonton.
The public release of the proposed budget is a big step forward toward approval, but it’s only a step. A non-statutory public hearing will be held on November 23, offering the public a chance to speak to the budget. Council deliberations will take place from November 27 to December 10, after which Council will have approved the budget and all amendments.
This is the first time the City is planning its Operating Budget on a three-year basis. The City provides these three reasons for the change:
- Stability: Planning a budget over multiple years allows Council and Administration to take a ‘longer view’ of Edmonton’s needs, and build out stable program and service delivery. This allows Edmonton to better plan stable revenues and expenditures, providing consistent funding levels for the programs and services Edmontonians expect.
- Flexibility: Multi-year budget planning allows the City to be more flexible in how it finances operations, allowing Council and Administration to reallocate funding priorities across the different years of the longer budget cycle. This enables the City to bring in programs and services when they are most needed, and to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our city.
- Future Planning: As one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, Edmonton needs to be able to plan for its future vision while also meeting its present day demands. Multi-year budgeting permits Council and Administration to implement or revise programs and services over a longer time frame, rather than being limited to yes/no decisions on a yearly basis. This means, for example, if a new program or service doesn’t fit into this year’s budget cycle, it can still be planned for a later year.
I think another benefit of a three-year budget is that Administration should be able to save much of the time, money, and stress that goes into preparing the budget every year. The budget dominates much of the City’s work through November and December.
Stay tuned, there will be much more budget discussion to come in the weeks ahead!
Bylaw 17423 will rezone the property at 9901 107 Street downtown from CMU to DC2, to make way for Pangman Development’s planned Augustana Redevelopment (which you can learn more about here on SkysraperPage). The residential building will be a maximum of 96 metres high with up to 235 units, and it’s likely to be a rental property.
The Edmonton Design Committee approved the application with conditions back in September. The current site is home to the former Augustana Lutheran Church, which closed its doors last December after 85 years.
Recommendations that have come forward from Committee include:
- That the Community Investment Program Project Grant recommendations be approved.
- That the River Access Guiding Principles Policy be approved.
- That Administration prepare a capital profile to implement a pilot project to install roadway upgrades in the Winterburn Industrial Area.
- That the Mayor approach senior orders of government and funders to request support for the Londonderry Regeneration Project as a pilot (part of the Safe and Affordable Housing Strategy).
- That the City of Edmonton Affordable Housing Strategy (2016-2025) be approved.
- That the Snow and Ice Control Policy be amended to keep school drop off zones windrow free.
There are also two Executive Committee reports that have been referred without a recommendation:
- That the report on the Process for New Libraries be received for information.
- Administration will prepare a report for Q1 2016 to explore options for the Graphic Arts Building and the Artery that could partially or completely preserve both buildings.
Other interesting items
- Bylaw 17396 will rename “Horse Hill Neighbourhood 2” to the “Marquis Neighbourhood”.
- Now that a judicial recount has confirmed that Amarjeet Sohi won his seat in Edmonton-Mill Woods, Council will receive a verbal report on the Ward 12 by-election.
- Council will consider participation in the Leadership in Asset Management Program which will allow the City to receive grant funding from FCM’s Green Municipal Fund.
- Bylaw 17289 is ready for three readings and will amend the Speed Zones Bylaw to change various maximum speed limits throughout the city.
- There are motions pending from Councillor Henderson (on food waste), Councillor Oshry (on public engagement stats), and Mayor Iveson (on procedures and committees).
- Council is slated to hear from the City Manager Recruitment Committee as well, though that update will be kept private.
You can keep track of City Council on Twitter using the #yegcc hashtag, and you can listen to or watch any Council meeting live online. You can read my previous coverage of the 2013-2017 City Council here.