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WHEREAS in December 2019, the Government of Alberta approved a new police funding model which requires urban municipalities with populations less than 5,000 and all rural municipalities to pay a portion of provincial policing costs; and
WHEREAS under the new police funding model, affected municipalities will contribute 10% of policing costs in 2020, 15% in 2021, 20% in 2022, 30% in 2023 and 30% in 2024; and
WHEREAS based on 2018 population and equalized assessment information the total amount of policing costs to be borne by the affected municipalities is $15,407,888 in 2020-21, $26,655,970 in 2021-22, $37,855,777 in 2022-23, $60,351,940 in 2023-24 and $60,351,940 in 2024-25; and
WHEREAS provincial policing costs represent a significant portion of the affected municipalities’ annual operating budgets; and
WHEREAS pursuant to Section 354(1) of the Municipal Government Act, a municipality’s property tax bylaw must set and show separately all of the tax rates imposed to raise the revenue required for requisitions, including the Alberta School Foundation Fund, school board, housing management body, and designated industrial property requisitions; and
WHEREAS Alberta Municipal Affairs has advised that policing costs are not legislatively designated as a requisition and therefore there is no authority for municipalities to show policing costs as a separate line item on the municipal tax bylaw, or to levy a specific tax rate for the collection of revenue to support policing costs; and
WHEREAS municipalites must include invoiced policing costs in municipal budgets and fund costs from revenues collected from the general municipal tax rate; and
WHEREAS all residents of Alberta should know how much of their annual property taxes is allocated to policing costs;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to amend section 326(1)(a) of the Municipal Government Act by designating the provincial policing costs levy as a requisition to allow municipalities to show separately on their property tax notices the tax rate imposed to raise the revenue required for the provincial policing costs levy.
Despite municipalities’ significant concerns with the requirement that urban municipalities with populations less than 5,000 and all rural municipalities contribute to frontline policing costs, and the implementation of the ensuing police funding model, the Government of Alberta proceeded with this in late 2019. As a result of this provincial government downloading, municipalities must reallocate money from their already strained operating budgets to policing, which reduces funding for other core and supplemental municipal services or increases property tax rates. If Alberta residents and businesses are legislatively required to pay for other third party-provided services including public education, seniors housing, designated industrial property assessments, and now policing, through their property taxes, it is imperative that they know how much of their property taxes are going towards each service.
The purpose of this resolution is to ensure that municipal taxpayers are aware of what they are paying for front-line policing.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Municipal Affairs
Government appreciates the desire for municipalities to be transparent with their taxpayers with respect to the use of tax dollars. In consultation with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, Municipal Affairs will consider whether or not an amendment to the Municipal Government Act is appropriate as part of a review of the finance provisions in the act in 2021.
However, it should be noted that amending the Municipal Government Act to allow policing costs to be collected through a separate tax requisition and tax rate could result in additional red tape and greater administrative work for municipalities to administer this levy.
Municipalities already have a variety of means available to them to communicate with residents and taxpayers with respect to the uses of tax revenue.
The Government of Alberta response indicates that the request in the resolution will be considered when the finance provisions of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) are reviewed in 2021. The Government of Alberta’s response that designating the police costing levy as a requisition may create additional red tape is unclear, as the current levy process already requires municipalities to pay the province directly for police services on a regular basis, similar to a requisition process. Any minor administrative challenges would be more than offset by the improved transparency that allowing policing costs to be displayed on property tax notices would provide for municipal taxpayers.
The Government of Alberta conducted a review of the finance sections of the MGA in late 2021 and did not include the change requested in the resolution within the amendments made to the Act as a result of the review.
RMA assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met and will advocate on this issue.