Red Deer County is joining its fellow rural municipal Councils in expressing outrage over the proposed changes to the assessment process from Alberta Municipal Affairs. The proposed changes could lead to massive tax increases or service level reductions to residents and business owners.
The provincial government is attempting to increase the competitiveness of oil and gas companies in the global market through a new assessment strategy. However, these changes appear to solely benefit multinational oil and gas companies that do not have head offices or large workforces in Alberta.
“I have always been supportive of oil and gas as a key piece of our economy, but this is an unfair download onto the tax payers of rural Alberta,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “There are better ways to make our oil and gas industry competitive. There are ways through policy direction that do not create such a terrible burden on the rural residents and businesses of this province. There is also a lack of transparency about future impacts, since the proposed changes only reflect a one-year time period.”
In addition, the proposed changes have no regulations to ensure that the money from the assessment will be spent in Alberta to improve the struggling oil and gas sector here.
According to Red Deer County Assessment department calculations, the proposed changes result in a loss of more than nine per cent of tax revenue, which equals to a loss of up to $4.4 million in overall revenue for the County in 2021 alone.
To compensate for the loss of tax revenue, the county will have to adjust operations through a large increase to property taxes (up to 32 per cent), a severe reduction in services levels, or a combination of the two.
Red Deer County Council is asking all concerned residents and business owners to do the following: Contact their local MLA and Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu (780.415.8692) to voice their concerns.
The final decision on the proposed changes will take place in mid-August so residents are urged to act quickly and express their concerns about these sweeping changes to the property assessment model.
–Red Deer County photo