Airdrie has lowest taxes and expenses among its peers

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – Airdrie has the lowest taxes and expenses per capita compared to other mid-size cities in Alberta according to the 2010 Financial Indicators from Alberta Municipal Affairs.


Property taxes – 31 per cent lower Sales and user charges – 42 per cent lower Provincial and Federal grants – Airdrie is above the norm for grants received


Long-term debt – 31 per cent lower Salaries, wages and benefits – 30 per cent lower Contracted and general services – 45 per cent lower Materials, goods, supplies and utilities – 60 per cent lower Transportation – 40 per cent lower

“This information is very good news for Airdrie taxpayers,” says Jana Jaeger, Director, Corporate Services, City of Airdrie. “These benchmarks provide verifiable third-party indicators that Airdrie delivers quality service at much lower than average cost.”

Background Information

Each year Airdrie’s audited financial information is compared to other mid-size Alberta cities. The comparison group includes Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, St. Albert and Grande Prairie. The population ranges from 39,800 to 90,000; Airdrie is the smallest city in the group. Although Airdrie is the smallest city in the grouping now, until 2006 Airdrie was grouped with municipalities that were all smaller, and results were similar.

Airdrie is the fastest growing city in the group with 4.54 per cent growth in 2010. St. Alberta is next at 2.80 per cent and Lethbridge is at 1.37 per cent.


Airdrie’s tax rate is the lowest in the group. Municipalities establish a tax rate to generate operating funds. The tax rate times the assessed value of a property translates into the actual taxes each resident will pay. For example, $300,000 x 4.6% = $1,380.

The equalized tax rate levels the playing field across the province to adjust for market value differences among cities. Airdrie’s tax rate is lower than the norm, not because our assessed values are higher, but because we need to raise less money in taxes to generate the needed funds, at least in part due to keeping costs per capita down far below the norm of our comparative grouping.


In spite of continued growth pressures and significant capital projects undertaken in recent years, Airdrie’s debt per capita is 31% less than the group’s. However, the 2010 over 2009 increase for Airdrie was 21%, a significant jump from prior years. This is due to a number of significant debt-financed capital projects for the community that came on stream in 2010.

Airdrie’s personnel costs per capita remain the lowest in the group. This may be attributable to a combination of a strong corporate culture, a predominantly non-unionized environment that allows broad job scope and flexibility, and contracting out some services that other larger cities may deliver using their own staff.

Garbage collection, legal advisors and transit are examples of services that Airdrie contracts instead of using in-house staff. If Airdrie is contracting services that other cities deliver with staff, contracted expenses would be expected to be higher than the group, but Airdrie’s contracted services are about half of the group’s median.

Materials, goods, supplies and utilities costs are holding a relatively flat trend line. Locking-in some of our utility costs through contracts was a beneficial decision.

– City of Airdrie

Alberta MLS sales activity to top Canada for next two years

Alberta MLS sales activity is forecast to show the biggest year-over-year gains in the country in the next two years, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.

In a report released Monday, CREA said MLS sales in the province would grow by 6.8 per cent this year to 57,400 and by another 1.7 per cent in 2013 to 58,400.

Across the country, CREA forecasts 0.3 per cent growth in 2012 to 458,800 transactions but a decline of 0.3 per cent in 2013 to 457,200 units.

The average sale price in Alberta is forecast to grow by 1.4 per cent in each of the next two years to $358,300 in 2012 and to $363,200 in 2013.

Nationally, the average sale price is forecast to decline by 1.1 per cent this year to $359,100 but increase by 0.9 per cent in 2013 to $362,300.

The continuation of low interest rates is good news for housing and for the economy, said Gary Morse, CREA’s president.

Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said the risks to the Canadian economic outlook remain elevated “owing to the European debt quagmire, but the continuation of low interest rates is the silver lining.”

“So long as the European debt crisis is contained and a global economic recession avoided, low interest rates will support Canadian home sales and prices,” he said. “Recent trends are reassuring, but interest rates remaining low for longer will doubtless keep the Canadian housing market under scrutiny for signs of overheating.”

Lai Sing Louise, regional economist for the Prairies and Territories for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., said residential MLS sales in Alberta rose seven per cent in 2011, while new listings decreased by four per cent.

“Alberta’s bright economic and demographic outlook will result in growing demand for resale homes. In 2012, resale transactions are projected to rise to 54,650 units and then increase by over three per cent to 56,550 in 2013,” he said.

“Most of Alberta’s major resale markets were in buyers’ market conditions through 2011, holding price growth to one per cent. Over the forecast period, gains in employment and migration are expected to lift demand, improve market balance, and increase Alberta’s average resale price to $363,650 in 2012 and then rise to $372,300 in 2013.”

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