Cities in Alberta Encourage New Tax Levy
The cities and towns of Alberta are looking out for a new local tax levy system for funding their fire halls, recreation hubs and wastewater plants. They are mostly worried about the currently proposed alternative, which is of an off-site levy that is likely to put both the developers and the new homeowners in the same bill. This will supposedly work only for the larger and relatively fast growing cities, leaving a large number of municipalities with fewer options when complex infrastructure would need repair. According to the president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), Lisa Holmes, the amount for building an entirely new fire hall can be extremely extravagant. She also laid out the position of the group at the editorial board of Postmedia at Edmonton on Monday.
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) of Alberta has been finally opened for the first time since the early 1990s. This government act is a system of law which holds equal gravitas as the constitution of the municipalities in Alberta. The province has introduced the various amendments and finally gave a first reading to the bill in May. The rest of the summer was spent in consulting with the public and the various stakeholders.
The additional changes are likely to be announced after the commencements of the house hits on October 31st. About 45 different regulations have been jotted down and reviewed. They are likely to be posted online for residents to comment on at the beginning of the new year.
Under this current proposal, developers are likely to contribute towards the development of the new fire halls, libraries, recreation hubs and the police stations if the residents of the new locality get a benefit of more than 30 percent. But according to Holmes, the smaller cities witness the slow growth of localities so no project could actually come up with one third of a fire hall’s demand. According to her, it is a better option to pitch the levies for a particular amount associated with a particular period over a defined time frame. It may or may not cross the jurisdictional boundaries but will only charge residents of those parts of the counties and town that gain the maximum benefits from the infrastructure.
The limited alternatives for the local improvement in the MGA require a proper plebiscite. AUMA does not come with the formal position that it is required to stay, and Holmes does not find any problem with it.
The larger and smaller cities of Alberta are facing a deferred infrastructure of $26 billion. The new MGA will therefore require the cities to come up with capital plans for five years. However, that would be without the grant funding from the provinces.
According to the president of the Urban Development Institute chapter of Alberta, Russell Dauk, developers will also look out for an alternative option for the off-site levying in their current proposal. These costs would potentially be passed to the homebuyers. However, he also warned that if the new fire hall is the product of an off-site levy and the rest of it is derived from the property taxes, it could happen with the new resident spending twice the amount. Ultimately leadership is looking for the most reasonable solution in order to ensure the benefits and costs are being looked at.
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