Lacombe County reluctantly agrees to oilpatch tax break

County councillors question wisdom of singling out companies for special tax treatment

Rural municipalities should not be expected to bail out oilpatch companies with tax breaks, said Lacombe County councillors on Thursday.

“I see it as a downloading. Sorry, I really do,” said Coun. Brenda Knight to Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, who was at council to hear concerns about provincial issues.

The province has called on municipalities to write off 35 per cent of the municipal taxes paid by shallow gas companies in a bid to improve the industry’s finances.

This year, municipalities will be compensated for the tax losses, but no commitment has been made for future years.

Lacombe County estimates it will lose about $316,000 in taxes each year if the tax break continues.

Rural municipalities have not taken kindly to the initiative, which they feel unfairly expects them to bail out one small part of an industry, while putting municipalities in the awkward position of treating some companies differently than others.

“This has been a bitter pill for me, to be honest with you,” said Knight.

“Every time someone is forgiven taxes, somebody else pays.”

Orr said the tax measure is one part of a provincial strategy to create a better economic environment for Alberta’s energy industry.

A war room to counter environmental groups’ anti-oil propaganda, efforts to improve relations with Indigenous people and a focus on getting natural gas to markets are other pieces of the strategy.

Reeve Paula Law said municipalities are being expected to forgive a portion of taxes with no guarantee the remaining 65 per cent will be paid.

Many rural municipalities have millions in unpaid oil and gas taxes on their books. A Rural Municipalities of Alberta survey estimated $81 million is owed to counties and municipal districts.

Law said other oil and gas players that are not eligible for the tax break are not happy that some companies are being singled out for special help.

Municipal councils have also questioned how voluntary the province’s request to waive the taxes really is, and there are fears there could be a price to be paid for those that don’t.

Coun. Barb Shepherd said that kind of uncertainty puts council in a difficult spot.

“Do we want to be in the position where we don’t know what the future consequences are?”

Council voted 5-2 to approve the tax break. Law and Knight voted against.

Lacombe County manager Tim Timmons said municipalities are still in the dark about what the province plans to do with resource industry taxes in future years, which makes it difficult to create their required three-year budgets.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Red Deer among affordable cities for renters, report shows

Red Deer’s rent is $10 below Edmonton’s and $1 above Grande Prairie,… Continue reading

North Red Deer Regional Wastewater System recognized as ‘Project of the Year’

Completed on time and on budget, it earned an APWA award

City of Red Deer hopes to see hospital expansion, new shelter in provincial budget

Red Deer’s own pared-down 2020 capital budget will be released on Friday

Alberta takes second look at trucking changes after meeting Broncos families

EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it will take a second look… Continue reading

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Police, lawyers and advocates say that one year into cannabis legalization, Canada… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Talk of Constitution resurfaces

Here’s a good-news, bad-news story from the 2019 federal election campaign: The… Continue reading

Lawyers for ‘Snowden refugees’ demand Trudeau grant asylum before election

OTTAWA — Vanessa Rodel arrived in Canada with her seven-year-old daughter last… Continue reading

Inspirational coach John Herdman changing the face of Canadian soccer

TORONTO — In the days leading up to Canada’s CONCACAF Nations League… Continue reading

Jury sequestered in case of Quebec man charged in murders of ex-wife, stranger

Jury sequestered in case of man charged in murders of ex-wife, stranger… Continue reading

Pedestrian hit by a train dies in central Alberta

Pedestrian killed in collision with train in Blackfalds A pedestrian was pronounced… Continue reading

Repeat rent-dodger dubbed ‘professional squatter’ prompts call for reform

HALIFAX — A Halifax coffee shop owner who says he tried for… Continue reading

Beef recall expands as Toronto slaughterhouse co-operates with food watchdog

A large recall of raw beef and veal products continued to expand… Continue reading

Most Read