As Finance Minister and Grande Prairie—Wapiti MLA Travis Toews is set to table the 2020 Provincial Budget on Thursday, Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says he and staff at City Hall will be keeping a close eye on how things may shake out for municipal governments.
Given believes the provincial government’s focus on budget restraint has had direct impacts on Alberta municipalities, including the City of Grande Prairie specifically.
“There are [many] areas where the province has decreased revenue to municipalities, or increased taxes on local taxpayers.”
He adds that while there wasn’t a direct cut to municipal or police funding in Budget 2019, there was what he calls “hidden impacts” which he believes the public must be aware of.
“Not all of them were immediately obvious. For example, the province changed their percentage of revenue they [take] from ticket fines; obviously, that is reasonable, but it did have a direct impact on revenues municipalities across the province.”
Another area of the budget Given believes should be paid special attention to will be the provincial education requisition. The requisition is a total of between 25 to 30 percent of collected municipal property tax which is handed over to the province to fund schools.
Given says the province is in charge of setting how much they want to collect from property taxes, and any big changes could have a big blow.
“In a year where council had intended for property taxes to stay the same or go down, residents could end up seeing an increase as a result of provincial decisions.”
The provincial budget will be tabled just after 3 p.m. Thursday at the legislature in Edmonton.