WHEREAS the agricultural sector is a major industry within the province of Alberta;AND WHEREAS the recent BSE crisis has confirmed that Albertas agricultural products are dependent on, and must compete in, the international marketplace; AND WHEREAS in response to efforts by the oil and gas industry, in 1995 the provincial government began the phased elimination of the requirement for Machinery and Equipment-type assessments to pay the education tax portion of the property tax bill; AND WHEREAS the education tax was totally eliminated from Machinery and Equipment by the 1998 assessment/tax year; AND WHEREAS partial justification for this move was the potential negative impact education taxation on Machinery and Equipment could have on the competitiveness of Alberta companies in the international marketplace;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties continue to urge the provincial government to remove education taxation from agricultural land and further request the equitable treatment of the agricultural industry as it relates to the removal of education taxes from agricultural land.
For many years now, the AAMDC, through its membership, has been requesting the removal of education taxes from agricultural land. Indeed, since 1999, resolutions have been passed in one form or another by the delegate body to this effect. Concerning the removal of ALL education taxes from the property base, the AAMDC through the Advisory Committee on Education Property Tax clearly states:”The AAMDC Advisory Committee on Education Property Tax believes that the achievement of this goal is attainable in spite of the many challenges to be overcome before property taxpayers will be free of this inequitable tax. Nonetheless, the Committee strongly believes that a window of opportunity exists at this point in Albertas history, with public dissatisfaction high and provincial revenues equally strong, for a fundamental change in the way in which education is funded.The Committee believes that, through careful and meticulous preparation, and with active and persistent member support to augment the Associations efforts, the elimination of education property tax on residential and agricultural properties is a realistic objective.”While an ambitious undertaking, clearly the phased elimination of education property tax in the same fashion as Machinery and Equipment is a reasonable strategy. In 2003, the MLA Farm Property Assessment Review Committee has estimated that the provincial loss of revenue from the education taxation of agricultural land is $34 million. A growth environment, such as the one currently being experienced in Alberta, provides an excellent opportunity to make this change with minimal difficulty. Likewise, the BSE crisis and recent droughts have established an immediate financial need for the agricultural community. The provincial government has been given an opportunity to show its leadership and commitment to help all Albertans.The AAMDC and its membership must continue the role of advocate for rural Alberta. In this regard, the removal of education taxes from agricultural land is imperative.
At the fall 2000 convention, delegates endorsed resolution 23-00F, adopting the report of the AAMDC Education Property Tax Advisory committee (established through the endorsement of resolution ER4-00S). The report calls for the elimination of property tax from residential and agricultural properties. The AAMDC has established the removal of education tax from residential and agricultural properties as a priority issue, and has taken every opportunity to discuss this issue in meetings with elected and administrative government officials. At the Fall 2003 convention, delegates endorsed resolution ER4-03F, reiterating the position that the AAMDC continue to urge the provincial government to reserve access to the residential and agricultural property tax base solely for municipal use in funding local government responsibilities.On March 1, 2004, the Alberta legislature endorsed motion 501, which states as follows: “Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the government to phase out the education portion of property taxes over a 10-year period, gradually supplementing the loss from alternative sources thereby freeing up financial resources for municipalities to adequately provide required services.”