The City of Grande Prairie is looking to hear the public’s thoughts on whether or not stormwater utilities should continue to be paid for through municipal taxes or should switch to a user-pay model.
City Councillor Dylan Bressey says that stormwater utility is a huge part of the city budget.
“We spend about $8 million per year, which is equivalent to about seven per cent of our taxes on Stormwater. It’s a service that we’re funding through our tax revenue, whereas many other municipalities fund it through user fees,” he explains.
“Right now we have a number of large commercial lots with a lot of flat surfaces where their stormwater needs are being subsidized by residential taxes. This is very business-friendly but it also makes residential taxes less affordable.”
Bressey feels it’s an important conversation to have with the community over who should be paying for the services.
“Our per capita spending is low compared to other municipalities and we’ve been focused the last five years on getting those costs down further. At some point, if we want to make sure our taxes are comparable to other places, we need to make sure our other types of revenue are comparable to them as well,” he says.
If the changes take effect, residents and businesses would pay their own stormwater bills for what they use.
“It would lower taxes by a drastic amount. If you’re not consuming a lot of stormwater and if you don’t have a lot of hard surfaces, you’ll be paying less money overall,” he adds.
Council will leave the topic open for public consultation for some time. No firm dates have been set as to when the consultation will end.