Municipalities Need Predictable, Long-Term Funding
The Alberta Party has proposed stable, predictable, long-term funding plans. The current government has left municipal leaders without the ability to build their communities and support economic growth.
Municipal leaders have been clear: they understand Alberta’s fiscal situation. Reeves, Mayors, and Councillors are focused on finding savings even while delivering quality services to residents. They are willing to help the province find a path back to balance.
However, municipalities collect less than 10 percent of tax dollars while maintaining a majority of public infrastructure. This means they rely on predictable, stable funding from the provincial government; which makes infrastructure funding in the new provincial budget troubling.
The UCP government had promised to implement the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) next year. This was going to see municipalities receive significantly less infrastructure funding than they received in the past. However, under the LGFF, funding would also be calculated years in advance, allowing municipalities to accurately create the multi-year budgets required by the province. It was supposed to start with a base amount of $860 million per year.
The UCP has now reduced that base amount by $138 million per year. Just as concerning, it has pushed back the rollout of LGFF for two years.
Acting Leader, Jacquie Fenske:
“The current government has broken its promises to municipalities. It’s done that repeatedly over the past two years, and it is doing it again now. How are municipalities to know what promises will be kept in the future? With doubt about future funding, it is impossible for them to properly build long-term plans. The government is making it impossible for municipalities to provide the best possible stewardship of public dollars and infrastructure.”
The UCP’s blatant disregard for partnership with municipalities isn’t limited to infrastructure funding.
In its budget, the UCP also rolled out dramatic changes to municipally managed Disaster Recovery Program funding without warning to or conversation with local elected officials. And this week it rolled out recall legislation for Councillors, with no consultation, and there has been no support in helping municipalities collect unpaid taxes from oil and gas companies.
Jason Kenney and his Cabinet have shown themselves completely unwilling to work with other levels of government, which is a shame. Now more than ever, cross-government partnerships are needed to build Alberta’s future.