Proposed changes to the way oil and gas facilities, wells, pipelines, and equipment will be assessed could see residential tax rates in the County of Grande Prairie increased by up to 52 per cent. The proposed new municipal assessment models could also see non-residential rates rise by up to 15 per cent.
The province is putting forward four different new assessment scenarios, all with varying impacts on both industries and municipalities. The proposed scenario which sees the least increases to tax rates proposes a 15.6 per cent increase to residential, and 4.1 per cent for non-residential.
County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre says some municipalities may not be able to weather a hit that big to local revenue.
“Some municipalities will lose their viability and basically will have to turn the keys back over to the province,” she says. “And then they would be run as an ID, as is what they used to be called when Municipal Affairs actually ran those municipalities.”
RMA estimates that rural municipalities across Alberta could lose between $108.7 and $291.2 million in the first year following the adjustment, depending on the option selected by the province. The preferred option by the oil and gas sector would likely because for the County to lose up to seven per cent of its revenues in the first year.
Though the necessary data needed to analyze the impact of the changes in future years has yet to be provided by the province, the RMA suggests municipal revenues will only continue to decrease.
Beaupre adds the net losses do not take into account funds the County has already invested in efforts to aid the oil and gas industry by deferring late tax payments until the end of October.
“We do have some outstanding accounts from last year that are unpaid and if I remember correctly I think there’s $29 million in the province that is unpaid by industry presently,” says Beaupre.
The County is reaching out to MLAs representing the region and applicable ministers to discuss the proposed changes and potential impacts to the County. Residents who have questions or concerns are advised to contact their local MLA by mid to late August.
A decision has yet to be made about which scenario will be adopted, though the Rural Municipalities of Alberta suggests representatives from the oil and gas industry are favouring the scenario with the greatest rate increases. That scenario would also see workforce reductions of more than 26 per cent.