By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Some local municipalities have ranked well on a recently released Municipal Spending Report.
The Canadian Taxpayer Federation report released this month ranks Alberta municipalities on how much they per person, based on data published by the Alberta government. Municipalities are grouped deepening on population size.
For medium-sized municipalities with population between 5,000-30,000 people, the three municipalities that spend the most per person are the Municipal District of Greenview at $14,911/person, Yellowhead County at $6,177/person and Lac La Biche County at $6,088/person. The municipalities that spend the least per person are Chestermere at $1,687/person ranking 74 on the list, Didsbury at $1,970/person ranking 73, and Coaldale at $1,972/person ranking 72.
“Coaldale’s place on the list highlights it’s commitment to efficient management of our operating costs. The town’s lower spending per residents highlights our ability to save for the town’s future, and further invest in our aging infrastructure,” said Cam Mills, manager of community of economic development for the town, noting that while the report has a simplistic view on spending it is an important perspective.
“The report shows the town’s commitment to effectively managing operating costs, while providing residents with a high quality of services. Effectively managing the town’s operating costs will ensure a higher portion of the tax dollar is invested in capital infrastructure (recreation, roads, playgrounds, emergency services, etc). This is shown in more detail in our comparative analysis; our operational expenditures are 68 per cent of revenues compared to 76 per cent in Blackfalds and 85 per cent in Taber; this means we put more money, relatively speaking, into reserves or towards capital projects that upgrade our infrastructure.”
Lethbridge County ranks 26th on the list, spending $3,409/person, with the nearby Town of Taber ranking 35th at $3,075/person.
For small towns with populations of less than 5,000 people, the three municipalities with the highest spending per person are the Municipal District of Ranchland at $23,151/person, the Municipal District of Opportunity at $22,013/person and the Northern Sunrise County at $16,964/person. With 195 municipalities on that list, Nobleford ranks 192, spending $1,343/person.
“Nobleford is pleased to see it’s ranking of 192 out of 195 on the CTF list. This is consistent with the CFIB – Canadian Federation of Independent Business – report in 2019, that Nobleford is the most sustainable municipality in Alberta,” said Kirk Hoffman, CAO for Nobleford.
“The CTF report states that Nobleford spends $1,343 per capita, based on property taxation. This is correct, but consider for 2020 we have a $4.7 million budget, divide that by our 1,500 person population, and we actually spend over $3,100 per person. We rank so well because we do not primarily depend on property taxation to deliver services. We do have the near lowest property taxation in Alberta, but still maintain high levels of service.What the report reflects is that Nobleford respects every dollar it takes from the tax payer and spends it’s money very carefully, getting good value.”
Coalhurst ranks 191 with spending at $1,455, Picture Butte at 156 at $2,239/person, and Barons at 158 at $2,229/person.
For big cities with populations of over 30,000, the three municipalities that spend the most are Medicine Hat at $6,243/person, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo at $5,246/person and Lethbridge at $3,965/person. Calgary is ranked eighth at $3,044/person, Edmonton at seventh at $3,116/person, and the lowest spending municipality of the 14 on that list, Airdrie, spends $2,172/person.
Edmonton and Calgary, however, are also ranked first and second in terms of highest spending per person among the six major western cities, with third ranked Saskatoon spending $2,998/person, Regina $2,558/person, Vancouver $2,429/person and Winnipeg $2,148/person.
The report also notes that Alberta municipalities tend to spend more than their counterparts in the other provinces.