Central Alberta counties rebut taxpayer group’s spending criticism

Central Alberta counties rebut taxpayer group’s spending criticism

Canadian Taxpayer Federation’s budget critique does not tell whole story, says counties

Red Deer and Lacombe County representatives are defending their spending after being called out by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Alberta director Franco Terrazzano singled out the two central Alberta counties on Wednesday, saying they and a number of other Alberta municipalities should slash their budgets before considering tax increases to compensate for lost oil and gas revenue.

“Counties need to cut spending before crying poor and threatening struggling families and businesses with massive tax hikes,” said Terrazzano. “If both counties brought their spending in line with their peers then they wouldn’t need to be grasping for more tax dollars.”

Alberta’s rural municipalities are dismayed by proposed changes to oil and gas assessments that could strip millions out of county and municipal district budgets. Red Deer County projects it could lose $4 million and Lacombe County $2 million under the scheme designed to bail out oil and gas companies.

Making up the lost revenue solely by boosting other taxes would see Red Deer County ratepayers facing the equivalent of a 30 per cent tax increase. In Lacombe County, residential taxes would have to go up 39 per cent to cover the shortfall if no other financial changes were made.

A Canadian Taxpayers Federation report says Red Deer County would spend $12.7 million less and Lacombe County $13.7 million less if spending was in line with the average of Alberta’s mid-sized municipalities.

Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law does not dispute the taxpayer federation’s math but says it does not present an accurate picture of the municipality’s finances.

“It’s really not comparing apples to apples,” said Law on Thursday. “It’s very difficult to compare municipalities and their services and the costs of other municipalities.”

What services a community offers, its population and geographic size all play a part in determining budgets, she said.

“We do have concerns with the inference they’re making that Lacombe County is over-spending.”

Lacombe County is large and maintaining and improving its nearly 2,200 kilometres of roads eats up about 70 per cent of its budget. The county also contributes to urban municipalities within its borders, such as providing a share of recreation costs, she added.

“The information is in the details. The whole story isn’t being told.”

Law said Lacombe County has no debt and council is managing finances well, balancing the services people want against available taxes and other revenue streams — which are likely to get smaller if changes such as the oil and gas assessments go through.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood also suggests the taxpayer federation’s report picks and chooses among financial statistics.

“The Canadian Taxpayer Federation has chosen one metric in isolation and has been narrow in its use,” said Wood.

Red Deer County covers more than 4,000 square kilometers, includes 85 subdivisions, 12 industrial parks, and more than 3,000 kilometres of roads and bridges — all of which has to be maintained and improved.

When using spending per kilometre of road as a standard, the county’s $25,000 per kilometre stacks up well against communities such as Chestermere, which spends more than $300,000 per kilometre.

And the benefits of spending by Alberta’s rural municipalities are felt outside its borders, he added.

“Industry is a heavy user of our infrastructure. The infrastructure built and maintained by counties allows industry to generate wealth for all Albertans.

“For example, bridges were built by the province but their repair, maintenance, and replacement has been downloaded to rural municipalities.”

Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Lacombe countyRed Deer County


Central Alberta counties rebut taxpayer group’s spending criticism

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Pastor, candidate under restraining order arrested for allegedly breaking COVID laws

CALGARY — A Calgary mayoral candidate who is under a restraining order… Continue reading

Pro-Palestinian protesters run from police following a demonstration in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Tensions flare at Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in Montreal, Toronto

Tensions ran high at competing demonstrations over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, then-vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. An expert in military affairs says the sudden departure of the  general in charge of Canada's vaccine rollout is unlikely to have any impact on the high-profile program. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canada to get 4.5M vaccine doses as questions swirl around immunization effort

OTTAWA — Canada is set to receive a large infusion of COVID-19… Continue reading

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds a warning of incoming rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Heidi Levine)
Israeli strikes hit Gaza tunnels as diplomats work for truce

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military unleashed a wave… Continue reading

John Guise is seen at 4 weeks and one day after his birth, weighing two pounds and three ounces, in hospital in Hamilton, Ont., in an Aug. 1 1979, handout photo. Canadian researchers who've tracked a group of men who were born prematurely at a weight of less than one kilogram are finding they tend to age more quickly than male babies who aren't born prematurely. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-John Guise, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boys born prematurely and very small age faster as men, study suggests

Canadian researchers who tracked a group of men who were born prematurely… Continue reading

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Calgary Flames players celebrate the team's overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Lindholm OT winner gives Flames 6-5 win over Canucks despite blowing four-goal lead

VANCOUVER — In a game with little to play for besides pride,… Continue reading

In this photo taken on May 13, 2021, Russia's performer, Manizha, smiles during an interview after rehearsing at the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands. For many, the stage and global television audience of millions is a chance to express messages of inclusion, strength and positivity. Manizha has a message of strength for women in her song whose lyrics include the lines: "Every Russian Woman. Needs to know. You're strong enough to bounce against the wall." (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Eurovision Song Contest returns despite coronavirus pandemic

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Pounding beats? Check. Uplifting lyrics? Check. Huge, backlit… Continue reading

Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball to Italy's Lisa Pigato during their match at the Emilia Romagna Open tennis tournament, in Parma, Monday, May 17, 2021. Serena Williams earned her first victory in more than three months by beating 17-year-old qualifier Lisa Pigato 6-3, 6-2 in the first round of the Emilia-Romagna Open. Williams accepted a wild-card invitation for the Parma tournament after losing her opening match at the Italian Open last week. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Serena Williams posts 1st victory in more than 3 months

PARMA, Italy (AP) — Serena Williams earned her first victory in more… Continue reading

In this Oct. 21, 2014 file photo, people pass an AT&T store in New York's Times Square. AT&T will combine its media operations that include CNN HBO, TNT and TBS in a $43 billion deal with Discovery, the owner of lifestyle networks including the Food Network and HGTV. The deal announced Monday, May 17, 2021, would create a separate media company as households increasingly abandon cable and satellite TV, looking instead at Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
AT&T, Discovery join media brands as cord-cutting encroaches

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T will combine its massive media operations that… Continue reading

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Most Read