Lacombe mayor: MacKinnon report suggestion to download costs to municipalities is an ‘oversimplification’

Municipalities remain in dark regarding potential provincial cuts

Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said that the province downloading costs to municipalities, as suggested in the MacKinnon report, is a over simplistic answer to a budget shortfall.

The report, which consists of 26 suggestions by a panel headed by former Saskatchewan Finance Minister Janice MacKinnon, suggested ways to to fix what the panel labelled as an Albertan “spending problem”.

For municipalities, the panel suggested that funding formulas require municipalities to share more the cost on major projects; an alignment of the municipal/provincial allocation formula to be more similar to comparative provinces; the establishment of accountability mechanisms to monitor municipal programs and services; and using the Canada Infrastucture Program to manage infrastructure costs.

Creasey said he was pleased to see the province wants to manage their finances better, but doesn’t believe municipalities should bear the burden to the extent suggested by the panel.

“Municipalities in general account for 60 per cent to two thirds of all the infrastructure in our province and only receive about 10 per cent of the tax dollars,” he said. “In short, I appreciate ways they are identifying ways to conserve funds but I think there are some areas where that is more apt.”

The panel’s suggestion are not policy as of yet, by the UCP government under Jason Kenney did say it will help guide budgets going forward.

Creasey said infrastructure projects are a large part of municipal governments and it is unclear how much and what potential cuts will affect.

“It will certainly make for some interesting conversations,” he said.

Creasey said there has been discussions with the government though the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Alberta Mayors Caucus, but it is unclear how cuts to municipal funding will play out in the short and long-term.

There is not a lot of firm ideas,” he said.

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