The County of Grande Prairie is owed approximately $2 million of the reported $173 million in unpaid property taxes currently owed to rural municipalities from the oil and gas sector. That’s according to a survey conducted by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta, with the help of County staff.
The RMA says the number is up 114 percent from the $81 million that was identified through a similar survey in March 2019. County Reeve Leanne Beaupre says collecting the outstanding debt may be out of their hands.
“Some of those will be industry that is either no longer operating, and therefore have abandoned all of their operations, and others for whatever reason has chosen not to pay their taxes yet.”
Beaupre says that, while she is understanding of the needs of industry during a downturn, the money that would be collected is reused in a way that helps local residents and businesses.
“That is money that the County would have, and will use, in the future to build roads, upgrade bridges, and for infrastructure is used to accommodate growth and business of some of those unpaid industry members operations,” she says. “Just over 50 per cent of our budget is allocated to infrastructure and road projects, so a lot of the funds we collect make investments directly back into areas where those industries work, and for the benefit of them and our ratepayers.”
The City of Grande Prairie, meanwhile, says any outstanding taxes owed to them is not significant, with only a handful of wells on land within its jurisdiction.
While speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney urged municipalities to work with the provincial government to help oil and gas companies going through tougher times.