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'About investing in people': Edmonton City Hall eyeing 1.8 per cent tax increase in 2022

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After a property tax freeze in 2021, Edmontonians may have to pay more in 2022, with budget talks to heat up at City Hall next week.

Edmonton’s administrators are recommending a 1.8 per cent increase to property taxes, a figure that was expected after a vote in the spring by the previous council.

“Whatever adjustments we make, whether it’s 1.8 per cent or less, it needs to make sure that we are making Edmontonians’ lives better everyday,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said Tuesday.

“The roads being cleared today, without that our city would not be able to function, our businesses will not be able to open.”

The “tax tolerance” of Edmontonians was being assessed in a public survey, so councillors would have data on how much taxpayers could afford.

That survey information is to be provided in December, when councillors start budget deliberations.

“The City recognizes ongoing effects of the pandemic on employment and business revenue in Edmonton. Administration will conduct an online survey to quantify these effects among property owners, business owners and the general public,” the report said.

This year saw council freeze taxes for the first time since 1997.

The city laid off staff and reduced its budget by $57.4 million.

At the time, then-mayor Don Iveson said the city likely could not afford another tax freeze in 2022.

Sohi didn’t make any promises on Tuesday either, but he suggested a tax increase is necessary to keep the city running.

“For me, budgets are about investing in people. It is about investing in services and programs that help people and make their life better and more affordable,” he said.

Major event funding, sponsorships for basketball organizations and reinstating higher-quality weed control were some of the things administrators want funding for in 2022.

Councillors will debate the Fall 2021 Supplemental Operating Budget Adjustment at City Hall on Nov. 22.