Finding savings is actually a fundamental step in building our budgets.
Before we look at increasing our operating budget, Administration looks at what we can do to use our current budget more efficiently. For example, in 2024, the City will manage $26 million in additional costs caused by inflation and population growth within the approved budget, which is equivalent to a 1.34% property tax increase. If we didn’t do that, we would have been recommending an 8.43% property tax increase in 2024.
Over the past decade, we have worked hard to find efficiencies and savings to reduce the impacts of inflation and growth on our operating costs and on taxpayers. Since 2015, we have found $345 million in savings, which is equivalent to a 21.51% tax increase.
In 2020, 2021 and 2022 we lowered planned tax increases as we supported Edmontonians through the pandemic. We were able to do this by reducing spending, including through program changes, finding efficiencies and reducing staff. We had no tax increase in 2021, and in 2022 our increase was the lowest among major Canadian municipalities.
These low tax increases were necessary, but they aren’t sustainable, especially in our current environment of high prices and significant population growth. It’s costing the City more to deliver the same services all while experiencing a growing demand for those services. We can’t continue to absorb the financial impacts we’re facing without adjusting taxes, reducing service levels or increasing user fees (like transit fares and rec centre admissions). It will likely take a combination of all three strategies to ensure we don’t create long-term financial sustainability issues.