I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. We are happy to provide an update on recent budget news and the City of Edmonton’s continued state of local emergency.
At the April 29th Council meeting, Council voted for an updated tax policy for this year. The combined tax levy for municipal and education property taxes will be 0% for residential properties, while non-residential property owners will see a 2% decrease.
Council was originally looking at a potential 7.6% increase considering the COVID-19 financial impacts mainly due to massive drops in user fees. To prevent that increase, COE Administration was forced to reduce spending dramatically. Administration did this by cutting back expenses and reducing transfers from the operating budget to the capital budget, which means adjustments to our Capital Budget will need to be made on May 25th. Additionally, Councillors decided to reduce their yearly office budgets by $695,000.
Edmonton’s homeowners and businesses will see less financial burden in their property taxes than what was originally projected in large part due to the City being able to utilize the reduction in education property taxes announced by the Government of Alberta.
If you’re a property owner, you can expect your property tax notices in late May. They will be mailed on May 21st and are due in June – but this year, in order to ease financial burdens of Edmontonians during this time, late payment penalties on unpaid taxes will not be charged until September 1, 2020. This applies to both the education and municipal portions of the tax bill for residential and non-residential properties.
City of Edmonton News
As for other City updates, there were also some additional closures of public parks and recreational areas such as tennis courts. A list of programs and services closed, cancelled, reduced or paused due to COVID-19 has been added to edmonton.ca/COVID-19.
ETS also began offering on-demand, one-way trips from 10 pm-1:30 am for essential service health care workers impacted by the adjusted ETS late night service. Using DATS vehicles, we are able to provide services round trip to six medical locations for impacted workers at:
- Misericordia Community Hospital
- Grey Nuns Community Hospital
- Royal Alexandra Hospital
- University of Alberta Hospital/Stollery Community Hospital/Cross Cancer Institute
- Northeast Community Health Centre
- East Edmonton Health Centre
For some good news in our city, Apple mobility data shows that Edmonton is the top in the world to return to walking during the pandemic. Edmontonians have shown the largest recovery in activity globally. You can read more on this here.
Government of Alberta Updates
To touch quickly on what the Provincial updates, Alberta Health Services has revised its forecasting model. In the original, early April model, two scenarios were developed: probable and elevated. In the revised model, three scenarios are included: low, probable and elevated. The low scenario reflects aggressive testing over the past month has generated more Alberta-based results to guide AHS – these results have been encouraging.
On Thursday, the Government of Alberta announced details of its approach to a phased relaunch of businesses and services in the Province. Gradual re-openings begin in Stage 1, starting on May 14th. The timing of Stage 2 and further stages will be determined by the success of Stage 1. The Province will monitor the capacity of the health-care system and the rate of infections, hospitalization and ICU cases to determine moving forward.
More information on the staged approach is below in this chart:
In the last few updates we’ve focused on what the City of Edmonton has been doing to respond to the COVID crisis. In this update we are beginning to provide information on the proposed Provincial Relaunch Strategy and we will continue to update on that and the City of Edmonton’s response to it in the coming days and weeks.
As you can see from the graph we will soon need to begin to think seriously about our Recovery from this crisis and to some degree how we will Reimagine our city in the years ahead. In my next update I will expand on some of the key principles that may guide how we think about the world as we emerge from the worst parts of the crisis. These are principles related to economic diversification, putting a health-care lens on urban design, modernizing labour agreements, maturing our agreements with neighbouring municipalities, and taking a less is more approach to our spending and consumption.
But for now I invite you all to reach out with any concerns or questions and I look keenly forward to the challenge of helping guide our city through and beyond this difficult time.
My best wishes for good health and safety to each of you and your loved ones.