At the invitation of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Pincher Creek town council requested a meeting with Minister Ric McIver during the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention. The convention will be held Nov. 17 to 19.
During the Aug. 4 committee of the whole meeting, council discussed what topics should be addressed during the meeting with the minister. Municipal Affairs requested that two topics be identified in advance, and council settled on the provincial code of conduct bylaw for municipalities and current challenges facing municipal finances.
Talking to Minister McIver about the ministry’s intention to remove the code of conduct for municipalities should be “front and centre,” said Mayor Don Anderberg.
“The ministry wants to remove the code of conduct bylaw for councils, and I think that’s absolutely not a good thing to do,” he said.
Coun. Lorne Jackson agreed.
“I just don’t see the rationale,” Coun. Jackson said.
Bringing up financial challenges facing municipalities was also deemed important, with Coun. Scott Korbett initially suggesting council speak with the minister about the stability of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.
At Mayor Anderberg’s suggestion, council opted to keep the topic to general finances rather than focusing on one aspect since the relationship between the province and municipal governments is facing numerous changes.
“The issue we really have is the province is now dipping into what historically has been municipal finance operations. Over the last few years, it’s really gone up,” said Mayor Anderberg.
The mayor added that 30 per cent of what the town now collects from residents in taxes goes directly to the provincial government for things like education and policing. Since municipalities have no control over provincial requisitions, he said, the fact the amounts will be increasing over the next few years is concerning.
Mayor Anderberg also took issue with the town not being allowed to report monetary downloads from the province on municipal tax notices.
“Those functions are the functions of the province,” he continued. “My personal thought is if you’re responsible for it, then you figure out where revenue is coming from. It keeps our tax rates up or increases them, so we take the heat and they get the money. I don’t feel it’s very fair.”
With municipal elections right around the corner, Coun. Scott Korbett said the timing of the meeting request was a little inconvenient.
“It’s funny that he’s asking us for this information knowing there’s a municipal election and it could be all different people at the table so then you’ve got to scramble to figure out what you’re talking about,” he said.
The next council meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 23, 6 p.m. in council chambers.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze