MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county is in support of a call by Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) for the appointment of an independent panel to review unpaid property taxes owed by oil and gas companies, says reeve Angela Aalbers.
The RMA issued its 2023 policy statements last week, including in regards to municipal taxation and assessment.
With members including Mountain View and Red Deer counties, the RMA says oil and gas companies owe more than $250 million to rural municipalities and that the inability to recover those taxes is placing a significant burden on other taxpayers, including individuals and businesses.
As of January 2023, the impact that unpaid oil and gas company taxes have on Mountain View County stands in excess of $400,000 with a total of more than $1.6 million having been written off since 2015, reeve Aalbers told the Albertan.
“Mountain View County continues to support the Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s lobbying efforts in relation to unpaid oil and gas property taxes and fully respects the necessity for taxation from industry in order to maintain the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that are necessary for industry operations,” said Aalbers.
“In light of that lost revenue and the impact that it has on our municipal operations, we support the RMA’s advocacy for a review of the current regulatory framework and their efforts in the implementation of fair, transparent, and accountable taxation legislation and policies that empower municipalities in the tax recovery process with oil and gas companies.”
- RELATED: Unpaid oil, gas taxes top $400,000 in county
- RELATED: Premier commits to addressing unpaid oil, gas taxes
Wyatt Skovrom is the RMA’s manager of policy and advocacy.
“Non-payment of municipal property taxes causes municipalities significant planning and financial challenges,” said Skovrom. “Alberta’s current legislation allows for different tax recovery powers for different property types.
“Due to the importance of property taxes to municipal sustainability, municipal tax recovery powers must be clarified and applied consistently across property types. There are no more excuses for oil and gas companies to not pay property taxes.”
The RMA wants the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), which oversees oil and gas development in Alberta, to become more involved in ensuring that companies it regulates meet property tax obligations, he said.
“The AER should work directly with municipalities to collect, verify, and update unpaid oil and gas property tax information,” he said. “The government of Alberta should appoint an independent panel to review unpaid property taxes owed by oil and gas companies and provide legislative recommendations to empower municipalities in the tax recovery process.
“It is critical that municipalities be recognized as secure creditors for all property types, as a lack of tools and power to recover unpaid linear property taxes from bankrupt oil and gas companies has major fiscal consequences for many rural municipalities.”
Regarding the province’s regulated assessment system, the RMA said in its new policy statement: “Ability to pay is not a factor in the assessment process for any regulated or non-non-regulated property in Alberta and should not be built into the model for wells, pipelines, and other oil and gas equipment. This should be addressed through other provincial policy tools.”
Alberta Municipal Affairs provided the following statement in response to an Albertan request for comment: "The minister of Municipal Affairs continues to work with the minister of Energy to look at whether anything more can be done within our regulatory framework to ensure companies operating in Alberta meet their responsibilities as taxpayers.
"We appreciate any suggestions by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to resolve the situation and are reviewing the suggestion to initiate an independent panel. We’ll continue to work with the RMA and Alberta Energy to closely monitor progress on this issue."