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County braces for impact of oil and gas assessment changes

Lac La Biche County concerned about significant losses in revenue for Albertan municipalities

Post Date:07/31/2020 9:00 AM

The Government of Alberta has announced proposed changes to the assessment model for oil and gas properties, such as wells and pipelines. Under the new model, oil and gas properties could have a lower assessed value. This means that they will pay less municipal and school tax. To make up for the shortfall, Lac La Biche County, along with many other rural Albertan municipalities, will face the difficult choice of raising tax rates for all residents, cutting services, or some combination of both.

In the worst-case scenario, Lac La Biche County stands to lose approximately $5.89 million in 2021 revenue. The County’s $5.89 million loss is part of an estimated $300 million loss in revenue for rural municipalities throughout Alberta. Moreover, this is only for the first year: the years that follow will see even higher reductions.

These changes are being made at a time when everyday Albertans are contending with job losses, lower incomes, and other stresses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipalities are also being asked to provide more services that were traditionally covered by the Province, including rural policing costs, while receiving less dollars to do so.

“The Province has chosen the worst possible time to shift the tax burden to those who can least afford it,” says Mayor Omer Moghrabi. “Everyday residents, farmers, and small businesses are being asked to pay more. I do understand that the oil and gas sector has been struggling, but cutting municipal and school taxes by deciding that oil and gas properties are now worth less is not the way to stimulate the economy or put Albertans back to work. The services that municipalities provide are some of the most necessary and efficient in the public sector.”

Lac La Biche County Council is working with provincial MLAs to have these changes reconsidered. However, they also ask the public to contact Ms. Laila Goodridge, MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, at (780) 588-7979 or FortMcMurray.LacLaBiche@assembly.ab.ca and urge her to advocate against the oil and gas assessment changes.