Clarity, balance suggested in government act talks

Improved clarity when it comes to the use of off-site levies and a greater balance between taxes paid by residential and business property owners were among the suggestions made in Red Deer last week during discussions about potential changes to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.

Improved clarity when it comes to the use of off-site levies and a greater balance between taxes paid by residential and business property owners were among the suggestions made in Red Deer last week during discussions about potential changes to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.

About 20 people took part in a meeting on Thursday that focused on the needs of business and industry. It was one of seven sessions held Wednesday to Friday in the city, with the others dealing with the needs of elected officials and municipal administrators, and technical issues related to assessment and taxation, planning and development, and governance and administration.

There was also a public open house.

Similar consultations are being conducted in 10 other communities across the province.

Cameron Traynor, director of communications with the Department of Municipal Affairs, said local participants in the business and industry session came from a variety of backgrounds.

“There was a mix in that session, from people from industry groups, from chambers of commerce, and staff from different municipalities.”

Some called for clarification in the Municipal Government Act as to when and where the off-site levies collected from developers can by used by municipalities, said Traynor.

“There was discussion around land development issues and assessment of land,” he added, with the issue of business property tax rates versus residential property tax rates also brought up.

Another topic was the need for co-operation among municipalities when it comes to streamlining regulations that govern businesses operating in more than one jurisdiction.

Traynor said those who weren’t able to take part in the consultation sessions can still do so online at mgareview.alberta.ca. Ultimately, he added, participants will hear a summary of the comments collected, and recommendations for change will be developed.

“There will be a gathering up of all that information, there will be a reporting back, and then government will have to synthesize the information, review it all, and then there will be decisions made as to what changes to the act to make.

“The goal is to have a new act ready for introduction in the legislature in 2015.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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