Edmonton in Middle of Pack in National Comparison of Tax and Utility Charges
May 31, 2011
Edmontonians’ taxes and utility fees are near the centre of a sampling of Canadian cities for total civic costs, while the City’s municipal property taxes were below the national and regional averages.
The City of Edmonton collects data each year through a survey of municipalities across Canada and in the Edmonton region, and compiles a report comparing jurisdictions. The study was developed to present a broad municipal context to City Council, showing Edmonton’s rates relative to other jurisdictions. City departments use the information in workshops, policy development and in various documents, such as the Budget.
“This study shows communities across Canada share similar levels of affordability for the total taxes and utility charges they collect to pay for the array of civic services used by citizens every day,” said Peter Ohm, Branch Manager for Planning and Policy in the City’s Planning & Development Department.
“This is a good gauge of general comparison but people should not focus too much on specific differences, because all cities have different revenue opportunities (such as levels and types of industry), different challenges (such as amounts of snow or irrigation needs), and different expectations for levels of service.”
This report is based on data provided by 19 cities across Canada and nine local municipalities.
The study also shows that different municipalities pay for services and programs with different ratios of taxes and utilities. Therefore, the researchers recommend readers focus on the total cost to residents from taxes and utilities to pay for the services each community expects.
The City of Edmonton’s taxes help pay for police service, fire rescue, public transit, roads maintenance, parks, community services, capital project financing, housing and buildings, neighbourhood renewal, libraries, and other services to citizens. Utility charges in Edmonton pay for garbage collection and recycling, and drainage and sewer services.
“Each municipality uses different methods in determining what to charge to utilities and what to charge to taxes,” says Ohm. “But every municipality provides excellent value for the taxes and utility fees they collect, which are much lower than taxes to other orders of government.”
For every dollar the typical Edmonton household spends in taxes each year (income taxes and property taxes), about 4 cents goes to the City. The federal government collects approximately 68 cents and the provincial government collects approximately 28 cents, according to Statistics Canada.
Provincial and federal income taxes automatically increase with raises in income, while property taxes to the City do not automatically change with increases or decreases in property values. In Edmonton, property taxes make up approximately 50% of the total revenue required to pay for City operations.
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