(Edmonton, March 22, 2018) – AUMA’s review of the 2018 Provincial Budget suggests government is committed to ensuring the sustainability of Alberta’s municipalities.
“We knew going into this budget that the government was going to have to make some careful and judicious cuts in order to address the deficit,” says Barry Morishita, AUMA president. “We appreciate the government’s restraint in cuts to funding for municipalities, as our local governments are key in providing essential services to Albertans.”
A key source of revenue for municipalities is the Municipal Sustainable Initiative (MSI), which provides capital funding for infrastructure projects, including water and wasterwater, roads and sidewalks, parks and recreation facilities, and other key projects that contribute to the quality of life for the citizens of Alberta. While there was a $150 million reduction to MSI, the impact of this is shared between Edmonton and Calgary, who will receive other funding to offset their reduced share of MSI.
“MSI is something AUMA has been actively advocating for on behalf of our members,” says Morishita. “It was great news for us and our members to hear there will be no impact to MSI over the next three years, as this provides some stability for municipalities in developing their capital plans,” says Morishita.
Of greater importance to AUMA is the need for a replacement program for MSI. AUMA was pleased to hear the province’s commitment to legislate a new funding program that is stable and predictable by this fall.
“When MSI was launched in 2007, it was only intended to be a ten-year program, ending in 2017,” says Morishita. “The agreement between government and municipalities was extended for another two years, but there wasn’t the ongoing predictability municipalities need in order to do proper multi-year capital planning. This is something even more important under new Modernized Municipal Government Act, when municipalities will be required to develop five-year capital plans. AUMA has already done a lot of the legwork for the province for a replacement program and we look forward to working together with the Rural Municipalities of Alberta and the province to have a new program legislated this fall,” says Morishita.
Morishita notes MSI is only one budget item that impacts municipalities.
“We knew there were some cuts coming to the budget, and while we aren’t entirely happy to see cuts to grant programs, we do appreciate the efforts government is taking to restructure and re-profile the capital grant programs. Unlike MSI, the grant programs are competitive and application based, and the cuts don’t have the same impact to municipalities. Along with the review of the capital grant programs, AUMA would like to see government consider the needs of our smaller communities, who have often been disadvantaged by the current competitive grant programs.”
Over the next few hours, AUMA staff will be pouring through the budget and provincial business plans for information regarding key priorities for AUMA members, including policing, seniors housing, and cannabis legalization. AUMA expects to release a full analysis of the budget to its members by Friday afternoon.
About the AUMA
Founded in 1905, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association represents more than 260 of Alberta’s urban municipalities, including cities, towns, villages, summer villages and specialized municipalities. Our goal is to develop a strong partnership between all three levels of government through a shared vision, with long‐term planning that facilitates social and economic growth, a strategic and stable funding matrix for capital projects, vital emergency and social services, and implementation and coordination in the delivery of services to ensure the long‐term sustainability of Alberta’s municipalities.
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