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AUMA looks forward to working with provincial government on aspects of MacKinnon Report

September 11, 2019

Dear municipal colleagues,

I’m sure you have already been made aware of the provincial government’s recently-released MacKinnon Report on Alberta’s Finances.  AUMA has examined the report’s recommendations, and we want to make sure you have access to our brief overview below, as well as the attached key messages, to help you address any comments or concerns related to the municipal perspective about the findings.

Our overview

AUMA is pleased to see that the MacKinnon Report largely reaffirms our positions on infrastructure funding. We continue to support the creation of a capital spending plan that will provide sustainable and predictable infrastructure funding for municipalities and encourage collaboration between the province and municipalities on a 20-year infrastructure investment plan.

We also agree there is only one taxpayer, which is why the Report’s conclusion that increasing the pressure on municipal property taxpayers is the answer to funding capital projects gives us pause.

One of our challenges with the MacKinnon Report is that it suggests municipalities should contribute more to infrastructure projects. However, municipalities own and maintain 60% of the province’s infrastructure, while we receive only 10% of every tax dollar.

In fact, provincial legislation limits municipalities’ revenue generating options, resulting in reliance on collecting property taxes. Urban municipalities do not have room to increase property tax rates, especially considering that the provincial government takes roughly 30 per cent of the property tax base for education from the same “taxpayer” that the MacKinnon Report references.

Other discrepancies in the report that concern AUMA include the assertion that Alberta municipalities receive more funding than municipalities in other provinces. This statement does not include the context of Alberta’s unprecedented growth rate, which outpaced other parts of the country. As an example, between 2011 and 2016, Calgary and Edmonton led the country in population growth.

AUMA remains committed to working with our partners at the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) and the provincial government to create a new fiscal framework for municipalities that supports the province’s financial goals. It’s imperative that we maintain the critical infrastructure that supports Albertans’ quality of life. This is the only way our province will continue to attract new investment and talent.

We appreciate the MacKinnon Report’s recommendations for how the provincial government can improve its financing and smooth out Alberta’s rollercoaster spending patterns. We will continue to work with our government partners toward our mutual goal: to better the quality of life and the productive capacity of Albertans.

Our key messages

For further information and analysis of the MacKinnon Report, please refer to AUMA's key messages document.

If members would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me directly.

For media inquiries on this topic, please contact AUMA Communications staff.

 

Sincerely,

Barry Morishita, AUMA President