WHEREAS municipalities in Alberta rely on the property tax base as their primary source of revenue to finance the provision of municipal services to ratepayers;AND WHEREAS the ability of municipalities to access property tax dollars is currently limited by the provincial governments reliance on the property tax base to provide a significant portion of funding for the public education system;AND WHEREAS the Learning Commission has recently released its report, recommending that school boards be given the ability to requisition up to 10% of education taxes beyond the annual allocation already collected by the province (recommendation 94);AND WHEREAS if implemented, this recommendation would place additional strain and limitations on municipalities in accessing a finite and already overburdened property tax base;AND WHEREAS the report of the Learning Commission has also suggested that additional taxation powers for school boards should be limited to residential and farmland properties, further increasing the burden on these taxpayers;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) urge the Government of Alberta not to accept recommendation 94 of the Learning Commission Report, which currently proposes that school boards be given the ability to requisition the property tax base for up to 10% of education taxes;AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED 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 October 7, the Alberta Learning Commission released its report highlighting 95 recommendations for educational reform. The report recommends a number of changes to the education system, including reducing class sizes, expanding the use of technology in schools, and increasing the funding for operation and maintenance of schools.Of particular concern for municipalities is recommendation 94, that proposes that the province “Allow school boards to requisition their local residents for up to 10% of the amount raised through provincial education property taxes.” Further to this recommendation, the rationale of the Commission clarifies that: “To preserve equity across the province, the ability to raise additional taxes should be limited to residential and farm property only and not include industrial or business property taxes.”Based on past direction from members highlighting the importance of a property tax base reserved exclusively for funding local government responsibilities (resolution 23-00F), the AAMD&C has opposed this recommendation. In meetings with elected and administrative government representatives, the Executive has stressed that property taxation should be reserved primarily to fund services related to property. The proposal to allow school boards to requisition up to 10% of education taxes at the local level beyond the annual allocation already collected for the province severely limits the ability of municipal governments to access the resources necessary to address the needs and priorities of local residents. Further, the recommendation to specifically limit school board taxation authority to residential and farmland properties, excluding industrial and business property taxes, not only shifts further burden to those classes of properties that cannot afford further taxation, but excludes the property classes that also benefit from those that receive a better education in Alberta. The AAMD&C has written a letter to all MLAs and ministers opposing recommendation 94. The purpose of this resolution is to highlight the specific opposition to recommendation 94 of the Learning Commission report, and to provide specific direction to the AAMD&C to continue with efforts to have the property tax base reserved exclusively for municipal purposes.