Big Lakes could lose $5 million in oil and gas revenue

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County could lose more than $5 million in property tax revenue from oil and gas under a plan by the provincial government.

The government is proposing to reduce the property taxes paid by oil and gas companies through changes to the assessment model for regulated properties in the sector, says a news release Aug. 7.

“If this proposed change is passed, residents will be impacted financially through property taxes and in a loss of service from the county,” Reeve Richard Simard says.

“Many services provided by the county would have to be cut.”

County support to neighboring municipalities of High Prairie and Swan Hills and community organizations may have to be decreased or eliminated, and there would certainly be an increase in property taxes

for residents and business within the county, Simard says.

Based on the information provided from the province, the impacts to Big Lakes County indicate a loss of up to $381 million in lost assessment, which equates to between $1 million and $5.6 million in overall lost revenue for Big Lakes in the first year with increasing revenue losses in subsequent years.

The loss represents up to 24 per cent of the county’s net taxation revenue, or 20 per cent of the county’s total operating revenue.

“The province is proposing the changes to give reductions in property taxes and education taxes to the oil and gas industry,” Simard says.

“This loss in municipal revenue must come from other taxpayers either through increased taxes and/or decreased services.”

Big Lakes council is calling on taxpayers to plead to their provincial government officials and to sign a petition on the county website at www.biglakescounty.ca.

“Please let your government officials know your thoughts on this issue,” Simard says.

“While the government states the proposed change is to increase the competitiveness of oil and gas companies in difficult times, changes will disproportionately benefit large oil and gas companies and harm our smaller local operators.”

To compensate for the loss of industry assessment and corresponding tax revenue, the county will have to adjust operations in one of the following ways, or likely a combination of options.

  • -Increase the residential tax rate by between 41 and 217 per cent.
  • -Increase the non-residential (business) tax rate businesses in by between 6 and 29 per cent.
  • -Cut county services by 7 to 69 per cent as a result of lost jobs.

“Council and administration are extremely concerned about the serious impacts of this decision because it will result in an increase in property tax, reduction of services, or more likely a combination of both to make up for this lost revenue,” Simard says.

“Big Lakes County is home to many oil and gas companies and recognizes that a healthy oil and gas industry benefits all Albertans.”

The county is contacting Premier Jason Kenney, Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu, Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn to express our concerns over these changes.

The county is also supporting neighbouring municipalities and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

To lobby the government, residents are urged to contact the following;

A list of council members is located on the county website.

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