Airdrie taxpayers continue to receive great value
December 19, 2017 / For Immediate Release
AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – City Council heard at their regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 18 that Airdrie residents continue to receive high value for their tax dollars based on financial indicators from Alberta Municipal Affairs. In the latest data released by the Province, Airdrie continues to have the lowest net municipal property taxes per capita when compared to all other Alberta mid-size cities.
That property tax gap has widened steadily from 33 percent in 2011 to 39 per cent below the mid-size cities’ median in 2016. Airdrie also has the lowest expenditures per capita in nearly every major category, while maintaining a high overall citizen satisfaction rate of 91 per cent and high marks for a safe community at 94 per cent.
The increasing gaps between Airdrie and its peer cities over the past few years have prompted staff to raise a cautionary flag for Council. While acknowledging the current economic environment, the level of concern continues to escalate with each year’s data in terms of long-term sustainability.
With revenues from property taxes and sales and user charges trending significantly below the median, it begs the question of whether or not the City is raising sufficient revenue to adequately meet the needs of the community into the future. Growth may level off over time, but the expenses of operating a municipality and delivering services will remain and escalate.
City Council has taken steps to help manage this risk by contributing to a tax stabilization reserve for 2018, working to develop a fiscal framework and implementing an asset management program.
“As a Council we are committed to looking for ways to maintain our high value for tax dollars while recognizing the pressure of being fiscally sustainable over the long term,” said Mayor Peter Brown. “With the tax stabilization fund and small tax increase along with other programs to ensure efficient services our goal is to continue to keep costs low for Airdrie residents.”
“At face value, these low costs per capita seem like a direct benefit to Airdrie taxpayers but it also raises a concern,” says Dorian Kachur, Manager, Strategic Business Services for the City. “With the increasing disparity between Airdrie and other cities providing similar services, the challenge will be to ensure that we balance reasonable taxes with a need to sustain City services and plan toward the future needs of the community.”
Airdrie’s total operating expenditures per capita are 35 per cent below the median. This statistic demonstrates excellent value for taxpayers, as each municipality delivers essentially the same services or basket of goods.
Highlights from the report show Airdrie far below the median per capita cost in all major categories including:
- 39 per cent lower than the median in salaries, wages and benefits
- 65 per cent lower than the median in spending on materials, goods, supplies and utilities
- 42 per cent lower than the median in expenditures on contracted and general services
- 39 per cent lower than the median in long term debt
- 46 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 61,842 to 99,832.
Manager, Strategic Business Services
403.948.8800 ext. 8759