Edmonton property owners will pay 1.9 per cent more in taxes in 2022 after city council approved revised operating and capital budgets Friday.
Councillors debated and passed dozens of amendments in the $3 billion operating budget, after passing several amendments in the capital budget earlier this week.
The increase means the owner of an average home assessed at $380,000 will pay about $56 more next year than what they paid in 2021.
The tax levy goes toward four main areas: municipal services, alley renewal, Valley Line LRT and the Edmonton police.
Coun. Andrew Knack said although he was aiming for a lower tax increase, he believes council has taken a balanced approach to investment and holding the line.
"I think a lot of the additions we have in this budget are going to have a really positive impact on people's day to day life and quality of life," Knack said.
"Overall I think what we have here is quite a solid budget."
Councillors Tim Cartmell, Jennifer Rice and Karen Principe voted against the operating budget.
Last year, council held the increase at zero.
Cartmell said won his colleagues' support for a $3.75M for the Community Investment Operating Grant Program — a grant program for sports and non-profit groups.
But Cartmell disagreed with the majority of fellow councillors when they voted to reduce the Edmonton police budget by nearly $11 million next year.
Cartmell tried to convince the others to keep the police budget the same for next year and give the service time to adjust to reductions in the future.
"We made a decision that gives our police department less than two weeks to react," Cartmell said to council. "They're going to have to make decisions that are reactionary, not planned, that are not deliberate."
"We have put a real hiccup in their ability to migrate to change to evolve into what we want that part of our social services ecosystem to be."
Rice said almost everyone she talked to during the election campaign in the fall urged her to not raise taxes.
Turf, tracks and toilets
Council approved a series of programs in the operating budget this week.
Anne Stevenson, councillor for O-Day'min, pushed for $1.4 million to enhance clean-up efforts to remove graffiti, collect needles and pick up garbage in an effort to encourage people to go out again.
"I think that's particularly true for the return to work movement," Stevenson said.
"I know there's a lot of hesitation right now for folks to come back to downtown — not just in the downtown, but again, having that increased cleanliness throughout all of our communities."
Council also agreed to Stevenson's request for $2.26 million toward expanding and enhancing public washroom services.
That is on top of the $2 million in the capital budget to design new permanent public toilets.
The capital budget will also fund construction of the Coronation Park Sports and Recreation Centre and the Lewis Farms community recreation centre, with the new facilities up and running by 2026.
It's the last year in a four-year budget cycle, meaning the new council will start planning for the 2023-2026 budget next year.