It’s May, which means property tax rates across the capital region have started trickling in.
Let’s start with Edmonton proper, which has set the 2019 tax rate as follows:
We were hoping to draw a comparison between Edmonton and the rest of the region, but instead we’re going in a bit of a different direction. While we’ve written extensively about property tax data in the past, we’re going to present some facts on how slow, tedious and unnecessarily complicated the entire process is.
Now to the City of Edmonton’s credit, there is a concerted effort to broadcast a lot of information about how the money is collected and how the money is spent. It’s almost as if the City of Edmonton is trying to make us feel good about the dramatic increases in property taxes over the past 10 years.
Maybe there’s a bit of retail psychology at play.
Since Edmonton has premium prices (ie/ higher tax rates than any surrounding municipality), perhaps they are consciously trying to romanticize the shopping experience (ie/ paying taxes). After all, Rolex couldn’t charge $10,000 for a watch that does the same job as a $50 Timex unless they convinced the buying public that an expensive watch offered something intangible.
Along that line of thinking, we propose the following slogan for Edmonton:
“Sure, it’s much more expensive to live and work here, but don’t you owe it to yourself to be awesome?”
So while Edmonton is trying to sell us a Rolex (figuratively speaking), the rest of the region is doing their best Timex impressions.
– We haven’t been able to find out the tax rate for Parkland County (which includes Acheson). On the page for their website that deals with tax rates, there are two links which both re-direct to a broken link.
– St. Albert was set to have their property tax rate bylaw heard on May 21, but we haven’t seen an update on that yet.
– Leduc County has an online tax calculator, but no explicit information about what the tax rate is.
– The City of Leduc has separate line items and a separate column for “Designated Industrial Property”, but it is far from clear on what property classes pay this charge, or what the final tax rate even is.
– Not to be outdone, Strathcona County has a “Designated Industrial Properties Requisition” charge. It wasn’t enough to have a “designated industrial property” amount, Strathcona had to one-up Leduc by adding “requisition” to the end. They also still showing 2018’s numbers and haven’t provided any indication on when 2019 will be posted.
Considering the sizeable portion property taxes contribute to a municipalities overall revenue, one would think there would be meaningful dissemination and transparency of information. Instead, it’s evident how difficult it is to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
And maybe politicians and bureaucrats prefer it this way. We don’t say that donning tinfoil hats, but it’s our general observation that the entire property tax model is intentionally obfuscated from the general public (we use the word “obfuscated” blissfully aware of the irony).
Perhaps the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, which exists to “ensure long term economic prosperity and quality of life for all citizens of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region” (and is funded by the municipalities, which in turn are funded by property taxes) could put a larger emphasis on clearly explaining one of the largest expenses businesses and residents have.
Or maybe these municipalities can simply commit to posting tax information with the same tenacity they spend in ensuring each penny is collected.
Chad GriffithsPartner, SIOR, CCIM
Chad is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate and focuses on the Greater Edmonton area. Chad entered the industry in 2004 and has completed over 400 commercial transactions with clients ranging from small, local companies to large institutional owners. Chad has been a top 15 producer with NAI Canada-wide since 2013.
Ryan BrownPartner, BCom, SIOR
Ryan is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate in Edmonton and is currently ranked nationally as one of NAI's top advisors. Having executed in excess of $100 Million worth of sales transactions and over 2 Million square feet of lease transactions, Ryan has developed a firm understanding of asset evaluation and an aptitude for building design, functionality, and long-term practicality.
Darcie is a licensed Commercial Real Estate Agent in the Province of Alberta with a focus on the Edmonton market and its surrounding areas. Darcie accomplishes custom solutions for her clients through her personable nature and results driven attitude. Darcie can help if you are looking to invest in commercial real estate or are looking for representation for a sale or lease transactions.
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