The City of Red Deer is a medium spender among Alberta municipalities, according to the latest comparison by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
But that’s nothing to boast about, according to Franco Terrazzano, the federation’s Alberta director.
He noted municipalities in this province are collectively the highest spenders in Canada, outside of Ontario.
“It’s like saying ‘I’m the most sober person in the drunk tank.’ It’s nothing to brag to your mother about.”
According to the latest data made available by the Alberta government, the City of Red Deer spends $3,544 per citizen.
That’s more than Edmonton ($3,116) and Calgary ($3,044), but considerably less than Medicine Hat ($6,243) and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo ($5,246).
Local spending comes in a little lower than comparably sized Lethbridge, which spends $3,956 per capita.
But by comparison, Grande Prairie spends $2,779 and St. Albert spends $2,896. The average municipal spending in Alberta is $3,401.
Since Red Deer, an oil-services centre, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the province, Terrazzano believes municipal officials should consider the ability of its citizens to pay for the projects being undertaken.
“Everyone needs to do their part right now, and that means municipal governments need to tighten their belts like everyone else,” he added.
“The more money Alberta councillors spend, the less money that families and businesses have to weather this economic storm. That’s why every municipal council must cut all the fat and lower property taxes.”
The federation’s comparison of medium-sized places with populations of 5,000 to 30,000, shows two central Alberta regions in the Top 10 list for spending — Kneehill County ($5,358 per person) and Lacombe County ($4,722).
The Top 20 spenders also include Clearwater County ($4,459), County of Stettler ($4,199) and Red Deer County ($4,050).
Of the small-town comparison (population below 5,000 people), tiny Gadsby, near Stettler, made the Top 10 with $8,975 in per person spending.
Terrazzano noted that Alberta’s municipal spending still ranks second highest, behind Ontario, even though this province’s economy has been tanking for over half a decade.