WHEREAS the Local Authorities Election Act sets a 3-year term for municipal councillors;
WHEREAS the shortness of the term severely impedes the ability of municipalities to formulate and implement long-range planning policies, capital and operating budgets;
WHEREAS the duties and responsibilities of municipal elected officials have increased and become more complex leading to a longer orientation period;
WHEREAS the 3-year term has a negative financial impact on tax payers;
WHEREAS a 4-year term would improve the effectiveness of municipal elected officials, allow for greater efficiencies in planning and long-range programming and reduce costs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Province of Alberta amend the Local Authorities Election Act to set a 4-year term for municipal elected officials.
As all elected officials are aware elections are operationally disruptive and in addition to the costs associated with the election itself, they increase the costs of operating a municipality. Increasing the term from three years to four years would not impact negatively the rights of the voters, but the additional year would allow for the development and implementation of longer range plans as required by the Province of Alberta.
Due to the ever-increasing complexity of operating a municipality, the growing list of services provided by municipalities and the time necessary to develop positive inter-municipal and regional relationships, a 3-year term is not sufficient to set priorities and programs and implement them. The additional year would allow for a proper orientation for newly elected officials instead of the sink-or-swim method of today. This would provide additional time to develop and implement multi-year budgets, capital replacement programs, municipal development plans and growth strategies.
Elections are like traffic lights and the shorter the distance between them the more time you spend stopping and starting and little time cruising at your maximum efficiency. Every so often you need to check your vehicle, gas it up and make sure you are on the right road – that’s what elections are for. In today’s world, three years does not provide enough distance between the lights.
Resolution 9-09S: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend Section 10.1 of the Local Authorities Election Act to extend the term for elected officials to hold office from a three-year term to a four-year term with a general election to be held every 4th year commencing with the year 2013.
The Local Authorities Election Act (LAEA) is an important piece of legislation that is critical to ensure that the municipal election process is conducted in a secure, fair and impartial manner, so as not to raise concerns about the validity of the outcome and the successful candidates’ right to hold office.
When the LAEA is next open for amendment, any proposed review will consider emergent issues, including the length of council terms. In past reviews of the legislation, some municipal officials and public members agreed that the term should be longer while others argued that the term should not be extended to four years. Therefore, a change in the terms of office will require a broader review of the LAEA.
The ministry respects and appreciates the AAMDC’s continuing interest and contribution to this important piece of legislation.
In Fall 2012, the Government of Alberta amended the Local Authorities Election Act to implement 4-year terms for municipal elected officials. As such, this resolution has been accepted.