Responding to repeated calls from rural municipalities, including Mountain View County (MVC), to address rising costs associated with uncollectible taxes from some oil and gas companies, the provincial government has formed a new interministry working group.
In a letter received by MVC council, Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson said the new group will explore ways to address concerns.
“Municipal Affairs recognizes that non-collection of property taxes has become more problematic in the current economic environment,” said Anderson.
“We also recognize this situation impacts both municipal and provincial property tax requisitions and will likely continue as the economy recovers.”
The working group is made up of representatives from the departments of Education, Environment and Parks, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC).
The group will be “exploring ways to address uncollectable property taxes related to delinquent industrial properties, specifically oil and gas properties which do not have easily seized assets,” he said.
The AAMDC represents 69 rural municipalities, including MVC and Red Deer County.
In a resolution passed by the association in the spring, members called on the provincial government to “develop new tools or utilize existing mechanisms to ensure that municipalities that are unable to collect education property taxes through the tax recovery
process be exempted from forwarding those uncollectible tax amounts to Alberta Education, or
have the uncollectible amount refunded.”
The resolution also stated “tax recovery through the seizure of land and assets is not always an option, particularly in relation to linear property such as on oil leases on leased property.
“This inability to exercise tax recovery processes on some linear property leaves the municipality
with bad debt for the tax burden to operate the municipality along with the debt of the education property taxes that they are required to collect by the government of Alberta.”
Minister Anderson called on MVC to forward any future “concerns and ideas” regarding the matter to the AAMDC representative on the working group.