Edmonton property tax freeze could mean pool, arena closures in 2021

EDMONTON — City administration is recommending against a property tax increase next year, but there would be consequences. 

A zero per cent tax increase would cost the city’s operating budget $64 million. New financial strategies would save $7.5 million, the other $56.5 million would be made up through service reductions, facility closures and lay offs.

“We are proposing a zero per cent tax increase because we understand the covid-19 pandemic has hit our local economy hard and Edmonton businesses and households are facing real financial challenges,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said on Thursday. “We believe that we play a role in making adjustments to our spending, just as households and businesses have had to do.”

If the recommendations are accepted, the East Glen Leisure Centre, the Scona and Oliver Pools and the Oliver Arena would close.

Off-peak transit service could also be cut back.

The recommendations also require some permanent layoffs, which could include supervisory positions already being reviewed.

Administration will present this proposal to city council on Nov. 18. A public hearing will follow on Dec. 3.

“We know that there will be a lot of interest about the reductions and their impacts,” Laughlin said. “We thank Edmontonians for their patience while this important budget adjustment process unfolds.”

City council will deliberate the 2021 budget adjustments on Dec. 9 and 11 and make a final decision before the end of this year.

If approved, this would be the first time the city didn’t increase property taxes since 1997.  

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