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For the last month, Beaver County, like most rural municipalities, has been urging rural taxpayers to support the County in its efforts to oppose the Provincial Government’s plan to change the method by which oil and gas properties are assessed. For more information on this issue, click here.
The Province has not yet indicated when it will make a decision, however the input period will soon come to a close. Recent indications are that the Province is staying the course and has not yet been persuaded to abandon legislation that will reduce the method by which oil and gas industries are assessed.
These proposed changes are catastrophic to rural municipalities and especially to Beaver County. Older oil and gas inventories will receive the greatest benefit from the changes and Beaver County is home to these types of industrial assets. In fact, Beaver County ranks in the top 10 rural municipalities most affected by the new assessment model.
The County risks losing up to 15% of its revenue, reducing staff by up to 64%, or increasing taxes by 58% (non-residential) to 103% (residential)!
Of course, there are other strategies the County could employ to offset this impact, such as reducing or eliminating its contributions to services offered by our regional partners - fire protection, emergency services, recreation, and library services. However, these are quality-of-life services that we all enjoy and they enhance the rural lifestyle that makes Beaver County a great place to live.
It is somewhat encouraging to see that the public engagement efforts are having an impact. Even organizations that support the proposed changes are noticing that rural Albertans are standing up and speaking out against these changes.
Unfortunately, the large oil and gas companies are hoping to dissuade rural taxpayers by suggesting that without significant tax cuts, the companies cannot be competitive in today’s economy. A closer look at the solution proposed by the Provincial Government indicates that it is the large companies that will be the primary beneficiaries of the change, yet there is no guarantee that the money saved on taxes will be reinvested in Alberta. In fact, struggling small to mid-sized companies – the companies that exist and employ residents in our communities - may actually experience tax increases under the new assessment model.
Likewise, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a nationwide citizens’ advocacy group dedicated to lowering taxes and promoting accountable government, recently released a report suggesting that municipalities could easily reduce spending to respond to this looming revenue crisis. The Rural Municipalities of Alberta has analyzed this report and is concerned with the limited scope of CTF’s review. To read RMA’s response, click here .
IT’S NOT TOO LATE !! Beaver County encourages rural municipal taxpayers to continue to reach out to your MLAs to express your concern over the proposed assessment model changes. The impact will be far-reaching and long-lasting and there is no better time than the present to be heard.
Contact MLA Jackie Lovely at 780-672-0000 or email@example.com, or
Honourable Rick Wilson at 780-360-8003 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or
The new Minister of Municipal Affairs, Honourable Tracy Allard, at 780-538-1800 or email@example.com.