Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA and Finance Minister Travis Toews agrees that the County of Grande Prairie and Municipal District of Greenview should cut their spending before raising taxes. The Canada Taxpayers Federation has called out both municipalities for complaining about the effects of potential changes to oil and gas property assessments.
Toews and fellow United Conservative Party MLAs Todd Loewen and Martin Long have been urged by the CTF to push municipal councillors to reduce their annual budgets by million of dollars per year to compensate for the possibility of upcoming revenue reductions. Toews says cuts should be their first move.
“I certainly would agree with the Taxpayers Federation on the recommendations to really consider our spending trajectory as a province,” he says. “Certainly as an Alberta government, we were doing that; we started down that path in 2019.”
Both the County of Grande Prairie as well as the MD of Greenview have said they are considering property tax increases, should the government’s proposed changes to oil and gas property and asset assessment are set in stone. the County says based on initial estimates, they may need to increase taxes by up to 52 pre cent to compensate for industry losses, and the MD stands to lose up to 12 per cent of its net annual income.
Toews insists no decisions have been made yet.
“The status quo, I think, remains a certainly, potentially legitimate option. I really do believe it warrants consideration as we look at every other regulatory issue, taxation issue, and consider them relative to our competitiveness,” he says.
“The government at this point has not made any final decisions, but this issue is worthy of review, [and] it will be very important that municipalities weigh-in and municipalities take a look at how any changes would affect them,” he adds.
According to the CTF, the MD of Greenview spends more per person annually than any other similarly sized municipality in Alberta. It also sites the County of Grande Prairie as spending 28 per cent more than the average mid-sized municipality.
Both have defended their spending habits, noting that they both significantly contribute to infrastructure that benefits neighbouring municipalities.