By Kenyon Stronski
Westwind Weekly News
With a new fiscal year comes a newly approved budget for Magrath – highlighting things such as the new Local Government Fiscal Framework, rural policing costs and Operating Budget revenues.
Launching in 2007, the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) helped municipalities build internal equipment capacity, rehabilitate roadways and extend and replace water and wastewater systems. According to the budget release, more than $14.6 billion has been allocated to municipalities since its inception. In 2022 the MSI was set to be phased out and replaced with the new Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) however the LGFF will now be coming in 2024 with lower funding than initially planned upon its start. However MSI funding has been announced to be reduced for 2022 and 2023.
The budget release states, “The government of Alberta’s reduction in funding will mean that every municipality will have less funding from the province to maintain ageing infrastructure and equipment going forward and will have to locate it from other sources as necessary.”
Also included in the budget is the Provincial Police Service Agreement (PPSA) which states that the Alberta government is responsible for providing police services for municipalities with populations for 5,000 or less and to all municipal districts and counties.
“In 2020 the government of Alberta announced a new police funding model that would require municipalities to bear a portion of the PPSA costs. Prior to 2021 these police services were provided at no direct cost to the municipality served.”
The PPSA is planned to increase in funding over the next several years alongside the increase in policing costs with Magrath’s estimated policing costs ranging to around $135,000 in 2024.
Next comes the Provincial Education Property Tax.
“In 2020 the government of Alberta announced a plan to start linking changes in provincial education property taxes to changes in population plus inflation. Those plans were stalled in 2020-21 and 2021-22 as the province responded to the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and opted to freeze education property taxes at $2.472 billion each year. For 2022-23 the province did increase education property taxes but instead of linking to population plus inflation the metric was changed to match any percentage change in Provincial Education operating expenses. As a result, 2022 education property taxes will increase by 1.3 per cent to $2.504 billion.”
Coming upon the Operating Budget, it is shown that Magrath makes most of its revenue from municipal taxation – culminating in a massive 42 per cent of its total revenue. Next is utility fees which covers 24 per cent. The last comes from government transfers, administration fees, provincial requisitions and recreation user fees.
If you’d like to view the full budget for yourself, you can find the link to download the pdf on the Magrath.ca website.