WHEREAS the amount of provincial grant revenue accessed by municipalities has been seriously eroded since the early/mid 90s (the MAG Program is a prime example);AND WHEREAS the residents of Alberta did not receive a corresponding reduction in their provincial tax levels after the elimination of the MAG Program, but were expected to pay more for municipally provided services;AND WHEREAS the limited funds currently provided to municipalities are subject to a convoluted application and approval process that significantly delays projects, usually resulting in increased costs;AND WHEREAS all other jurisdictions within the MASH sector appear to have received an infusion of provincial support in recent years, except for municipalities;AND WHEREAS local elected officials should be trusted with revenue application that best meets the needs of their community and the residents within;AND WHEREAS municipalities have been forced to cut programs and services in order to keep property tax adjustments at an acceptable rate;AND WHEREAS aging municipal infrastructure repairs and/or replacement cannot be adequately funded through property tax alone;AND WHEREAS residential growth rates continue to rise but do not generate sufficient revenues to sustain a quality of life synonymous with the Alberta Advantage;AND WHEREAS Premier Klein made comments in the 2001 provincial general election campaign relative to increased assistance being made available to municipalities;AND WHEREAS the provincial government has recently enjoyed unprecedented revenues and corresponding budget surpluses.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts & Counties urge the Government of Alberta to consider re-establishing the MAG Program to its pre-1994 level, adjusted for inflation.
The demands for programs and services from residents have never been so great. Citizens are much more involved and aware of issues facing their communities and are taking an active and participative role in helping formulate municipal policies and action plans. In so doing, the resources available to municipalities have been stretched to the limit. Municipalities need help and need it now. The Municipal Assistance Grant Program was an unconditional grant that allowed municipalities to utilize grant funding according to their own local priorities. Notwithstanding the fact that the grant was phased out over a three-year period, municipalities were adversely impacted and had no choice but to increase taxes, reduce programs and/or services, or a combination of both, to offset the lost revenue. In many instances, projects that were contemplated were cancelled. Capital expenditures were reduced to compensate for the decreased revenues. Many of these cancelled projects are now beginning to haunt municipalities. The re-establishment of MAG would go a long way in helping relieve municipalities from their difficult financial positions and begin to address some of their priorities and program requirements.