Airdrie taxpayers continue to receive great value
December 8, 2015 / For Immediate Release
AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – The Airdrie Advantage continues when it comes to value for residents’ tax dollar. In the latest data released by the Province, Alberta Municipal Affairs financial indicators demonstrate that Airdrie leads the pack with the lowest net municipal property taxes per capita when compared with the average of all the other Alberta cities. The advantage holds even when benchmarked against our smaller regional neighbours: Cochrane, Okotoks and Chestermere.
That property tax gap has widened steadily from 31 percent five years ago to 39 per cent below the mid-size cities’ median today. Airdrie also has the lowest expenditures per capita in nearly every major category, while maintaining a very high overall citizen satisfaction rate of 97 per cent and high marks for a safe community at 94 per cent.
Where property taxes are below the average, revenue could be made up through sales and user charges, but in this category the gap is even wider. A potential concern here is that high growth is subsidizing the costs of operating a municipality, which is problematic if that growth drops off substantially.
“Low costs per rate payer, high satisfaction with services - these translate into good value and efficient services for Airdrie residents,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “I would like to commend staff and Council members across the board for their commitment to managing our tax dollars efficiently and effectively, and understanding that we can always be better."
Five years ago, the gap for personnel costs was 30 per cent. Today, it’s 40 per cent. “This really speaks to efficiencies, flexibility and creativity amongst City employees. Staff continually re-evaluate processes and priorities as volumes escalate and capacity is absorbed,” says Dorian Kachur, Business Strategy Team Leader for the City. “Since wages are comparable across the group, City of Airdrie staff are serving increasingly more residents with fewer staff than their counterparts – last year staff served 74 per cent more residents per full-time position; this year staff served 85 per cent more residents per full-time position.”
Airdrie’s total operating expenditures per capita have widened to a 37 per cent margin from the median. This statistic demonstrates excellent value for taxpayers, as each municipality delivers essentially the same services or basket of goods. All of those costs, regardless of delivery method, are captured in this figure.
Highlights from the report show Airdrie far below the median per capita cost in all major categories including:
40 per cent lower than the median in salaries, wages and benefits,67 per cent lower than the median in spending on materials, goods, supplies and utilities,41 per cent lower than the median in expenditures on contracted and general services,34 per cent lower than the median in long term debt, and,53 per cent lower than the median on sales and user charges.
Airdrie’s comparison group includes five other Alberta mid-sized cities: Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, St. Albert and Grande Prairie. The population range is from 54,900 to 98,600.
Business Strategy Team Leader
403.948.8800 ext. 8759