On July 23, Beaver County was shocked to hear about a proposal from the Provincial Government to change the way that oil and gas properties are assessed in Alberta, including in the County. The Government changes are intended to reduce the amount of taxes paid by the oil and gas sector so that the industry can increase its profitability and be more competitive in today’s economic climate.
In 2020, taxes from oil and gas companies in Beaver County are expected to be approximately $7 million. If the changes are implemented, the amount of taxes that will be lost under one scenario is $3 million – a 43% reduction!
The County relies on property taxes to help pay for the services provided to every taxpayer and resident in Beaver County. Taxes also enable the County to provide grants to our towns and villages for fire protection, emergency services, recreation, and library services.
If the amount received from the oil and gas properties is reduced, Beaver County Council will be faced with difficult choices – either reduce expenses by 15%, cut staff by 64%, increase non-residential taxes by 58%, increase residential taxes by 103%, or implement a combination of these options.
We are all having a difficult year already, with COVID-19 having a huge impact on everyone – and affecting some more than others. This unprecedented situation, coupled with the fact that our wet weather has dealt additional challenges to our roads, drainage systems, and agricultural lands, means we should be finding ways to INCREASE the level of service, not decrease it.
The County is not able to increase the mill rate on oil and gas properties alone to recoup the taxes lost. The Municipal Government Act restricts the non-residential mill rate to no more than 5 times the residential mill rate. The County’s current mill rate ratio is approximately 4:1. While there is room to increase the non-residential mill rate, it will not be enough to recoup $3 million of lost taxes.
YOU CAN HELP !
Whether you own property in the County or live in one of the towns and villages in the Beaver Region, you will be impacted, either directly or indirectly, by the proposed changes in assessment. County Councillors are reaching out to the MLAs to express their grave concern and request that the changes be reconsidered. You can lend your voice to this effort by contacting your MLA – either Jackie Lovely at 780-672-0000 or email@example.com, or Rick Wilson at 780-360-8003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Government of Alberta is accepting input during the month of August.
For more information, click here, or contact your local Councillor.