WHEREAS Alberta is experiencing a period of strong growth and a robust economy which requires significant, predictable and sustainable expenditures by municipalities for new infrastructure and maintenance of existing investment; AND WHEREAS municipalities are limited to property taxation and user fees as revenue sources, and do not have access to the other types of revenue generation available to the federal and provincial governments, which naturally increase revenues in times of expanding economies;AND WHEREAS Alberta Transportation grants are a significant source of capital funding for municipal infrastructure programs, reflecting the provincial governments role and responsibility for province-wide transportation infrastructure necessary to support and sustain strong economic growth throughout Alberta;AND WHEREAS sound financial management requires long range capital budgets supported by sustainable and predictable sources of financing;AND WHEREAS Alberta Transportation grants have been subject to huge fluctuations and sudden changes, impacting municipal programs which have been committed to and which often extend beyond the current fiscal year;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to implement sustainable and predictable province-wide capital funding, thereby removing infrastructure grants from the fluctuations of the Provincial Operating Budget and enabling long-term commitments to be made and kept with municipalities.
Municipal governments have the major responsibility for adequate and well-maintained infrastructure, with the primary source of funding coming from the provincial government. Citizens, private and public businesses expect municipalities to fulfill that mandate, and as a result, make family and business decisions based on this expectation.Infrastructure projects are usually large dollar value, and most municipalities do not have the financial resources to deal with these capital projects without some assistance from other levels of government. These projects include roads, bridges, culverts, solid waste management, stormwater management, water supply treatment and distribution and sewage collection and treatment.In view of the significant capital investment required for infrastructure projects, most municipalities have long-term capital plans, which form the basis of their capital budget process. In Alberta, 5-year capital budgets are very common, with three years being the minimum in most cases. This planning and budgeting process enables municipalities to generate the matching funding required for shared projects, which are a traditional way of doing business in Alberta.In the fall of 2001, during the budget process of most municipalities, representatives of Alberta Transportation advised that the Transportation Grant of $60 per capita for urban areas was reduced to $51, and for rural municipalities, the Rural Transportation Grant would be reduced and the Resource Roads Improvement Program cut. As well, this reduced funding was projected into 2003 and beyond, with a negative impact on the 5-Year Capital Budgets of municipalities. As a result, municipalities had to cut their capital budgets, which in many cases, had already been prepared.During the recent Provincial Budget, which was subsequent to the budget process of most municipalities, it was announced that transportation grants would be reduced by 70%. However, in response to province-wide concern, the province reversed its position on the funding levels for 2002, maintaining the earlier funding commitment except for the elimination of the Resource Roads Improvement Program; however, ministry representatives indicate that the funding levels for 2003 and beyond will be at significantly lower levels for both urban and rural municipalities. The result will be a significant scaling back of much needed infrastructure programs.This sudden change in the funding support to municipalities comes at a time when rapid growth is creating an even greater need for infrastructure support. In addition, the unexpected nature of the change in provincial government funding raises the question of the reliability of municipal long-term capital budgets, given the fact that provincial funding, which is a significant portion of the budget, cannot be relied upon for longer than one year. The result is confusion among citizens, businesses and other organizations regarding the Provinces role and commitment to supporting major transportation infrastructure programs.This resolution is the same as AUMAs Resolution No. P16, presented by the City of Red Deer and passed the week of September 16, 2002 at the AUMA Convention in Calgary.
The AAMDC has numerous resolutions currently in effect addressing the issue of federal and provincial funding support for municipal infrastructure. Most of these resolutions call for an increased, sustainable and predictable funding commitment from either or both of the federal and provincial governments. In addition, the AAMDC has carried forward this message on numerous occasions to federal and provincial Ministers, departmental staff, and groups such as the Standing Policy Committee on Agriculture & Municipal Affairs, the Ministers Municipal/Provincial Council on Roles, Responsibilities & Resources in the 21st Century, the Premiers Task Force on Infrastructure, the Financial Management Commission, the Prime Ministers Task Force on the Four Western Provinces, and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.