Posted on Jan 23, 2020

Municipalities facing billion-dollar shortfall due to UCP cuts and indifference to unpaid industrial taxes

Alberta’s municipalities will lose more than $1 billion over the next four years, through a combination of UCP cuts, downloading of costs, and indifference to unpaid industrial property taxes.

“To pay for his $4.7-billion no-jobs corporate handout, Jason Kenney has downloaded hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs onto municipalities,” said Joe Ceci, NDP Municipal Affairs Critic. “And now he wants rural taxpayers to dig further into their pockets to cover unpaid tax bills for industry.”

Rural Municipalities of Alberta said Monday that a survey of its members shows they are owed a total of $173 million in unpaid property taxes from oil and gas companies, more than double the amount compared to one year ago. The UCP have refused to provide support to rural municipalities to cover the lost revenue, leaving communities to cover the cost through increased property taxes and service cuts.

Last year, the UCP gave a 35 per cent tax break to shallow gas wells and initially reimbursed municipalities for the cuts. But that program has ended and municipalities have been left to absorb an additional loss, estimated at $80 million over four years.

The government also announced it was changing the police funding model for rural communities, requiring rural Albertans to pay $174 million over four years to hire additional RCMP officers. 

The UCP government also cut Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding by $648 million over four years. This funding is used by municipalities to build and maintain vital infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water, and wastewater systems.. 

“Jason Kenney is turning his back on rural Albertans,” said Ceci. “His refusal to help these communities while making province-wide cuts and downloading new costs on to municipalities is making a bad situation worse. The UCP are threatening the viability of these communities.”