'The situation is dire': Municipalities say changes to how oil and gas companies are assessed would cost them millions
EDMONTON -- A number of Alberta municipalities are worried the provincial government's proposed assessment changes to oil and gas companies will hurt them financially.
The Alberta government recently released four scenarios to adjust the way oil and gas properties are assessed.
Lac Ste. Anne County said the province's plan is an "ill-conceived, industry biased" model that would "strike a crippling blow to rural Albertans already struggling under the weight of fiscal downturn."
The county says the changes would result in a loss somewhere between $108 million and $291 million for municipalities in property taxes by shifting the burden from the industry to homeowners in the first year alone.
Lacombe County, Cypress County and M.D. of Wainwright also voiced their concerns Friday.
"The situation is dire," said Cypress County Revee Dan Hamilton."
"No one is saying the industry doesn’t need help," said Bob Barss, the Reeve of M.D. of Wainwright. "We all know they need help but to put it 100 per cent on the backs of the ratepayers of Alberta is unacceptable."
"I think we’ve seen the province already reach forward with the royalty incentive, we’ve seen the province come forward with corporate tax modifications.," said Al Kemmere with Rural Municipalities of Alberta. "The province has a lot more tools than we do, we have one income stream and that’s our property tax stream and we don’t think that is the right tool to deal with this."
Kaycee Madu, Alberta's minister for municipal affairs, says the province is looking to strike the right balance between oil and gas companies and municipalities.
"If we don't do that," he said, "it’s going to be a lose-lose scenario for everyone and I don't want that to happen."
Several municipalities met with MLAs Friday afternoon to try to find the best way forward.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Weisberg