Linda Sloan

AUMA in the hunt for new funding deal with province

Behind the garbage trucks, running taps, flushing toilets and burning light bulbs are the municipalities. But Alberta’s cities, towns and villages are finding it increasingly difficult to foot the bills for the core services their citizens expect, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Linda Sloan said on Tuesday.

Behind the garbage trucks, running taps, flushing toilets and burning light bulbs are the municipalities.

But Alberta’s cities, towns and villages are finding it increasingly difficult to foot the bills for the core services their citizens expect, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Linda Sloan said on Tuesday.

“Currently, municipalities are unable to cover the cost of delivering services,” Sloan told the Red Deer Advocate’s editorial board. “The current system is not sustainable and we need to find a solution.

“We must find a way to provide the services that we use on a daily basis without taking on a mortgage that future generations will have to repay.”

A year ago, the AUMA rolled out the Local Matters campaign and last week a new initiative was launched with radio, print and online messages to educate Albertans about just how much of the daily services they rely on is funded by their municipal governments.

Despite their position as the government closest to residents, municipalities only get somewhere in the range of 10 cents of every tax dollar to pave roads, run transit systems and provide essential services at a time when communities are growing, says the AUMA.

Of the province’s $40-billion budget, only one per cent — 2.6 per cent — comes back to municipalities, said Sloan.

That’s not enough, she said. And it has left municipalities piling on debt and hiking taxes, often resorting to double-digit increases, to make ends meet.

To remedy this, the AUMA wants the provincial government to commit to sitting down at the table and hashing out a new funding agreement and relationship with municipalities.

The AUMA wants that meeting within 60 days following the next provincial election. So far, there has been little reaction from Edmonton.

“We have made that request in writing, but we have not received a response,” Sloan said.

Exactly what needs to be done remains unclear.

Some have proposed that municipalities get back the school taxes they collect on behalf of the province each year, which amounts to about 30 per cent of every property tax bill, or $1.8 billion this year.

Another possibility is providing something along the lines of the Municipal Sustainable Initiative funding municipalities have been getting since 2008, but making it permanent, ongoing and sustainable. Others believe it’s time municipalities had the power to levy taxes besides property taxes.

Sloan said the AUMA isn’t backing any particular solution right now.

“The reality is that we don’t believe we can define or determine that without collaboration, and discussion with negotiation with the province,” she said.

Red Deer city Coun. Cindy Jefferies said it’s time to “put everything on the table and talk about what works best for municipalities and the Province of Alberta going forward for the next 100 years.

“We’ve funded them the way we have many, many years. Let’s look to the future and what’s going to position municipalities to be the strong centres of life that we need them to be for the province of the future.”

Sloan said a better funding deal for municipalities will benefit all Albertans. Stronger municipalities means economic growth for the province.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is cancelling his planned trip to… Continue reading

Town of Ponoka facing lawsuit from pair of local residents

Ponoka town council members and administration have been served with a lawsuit… Continue reading

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

TYENDINAGA, Ont. — Hours of talks between the federal government and representatives… Continue reading

Red Deer County investing in fibre optics

County investing $7 million over two years to improve Internet connections

Fashion Fridays: Apple body types: What you need to know

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 6 A Perogie Supper is being held Thursday, Feb. 6 from… Continue reading

Woman loses 50 pairs of shoes after boyfriend accidentally donates them to thrift store

Cassandra Converse can’t wait to go shoe shopping. Last month, Converse’s boyfriend… Continue reading

RDC Queens fall in double OT to MacEwan University Griffins

Griffins 4 Queens 3 (2OT) The RDC Queens managed to salvage a… Continue reading

Trump takes Daytona 500 warmup lap in presidential limousine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump gave an election-year embrace to… Continue reading

Canada expected to support heavy fuel ban in Arctic despite costs to northerners

The federal government is expected to support international measures that would reduce… Continue reading

Nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

OTTAWA — The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is warning that the… Continue reading

‘Sonic’ speeds to $57M debut; ‘Parasite’ sees big Oscar bump

NEW YORK — The redesigned “Sonic the Hedgehog” showed plenty of teeth… Continue reading

Justin Timberlake on ‘trauma’ of being pelted with bottles at SARS concert

TORONTO — Justin Timberlake is still haunted by being pelted with what… Continue reading

Most Read