By Trevor Busch
The Municipal District of Taber lags behind an average in financial support for recreation provided to neighbouring municipalities, according to a report prepared by town administration.
In December 2017, administration was directed to compare recreation support between urban municipalities and rural municipalities in Western Canada. In March, a detailed report was presented by administration, but this was ordered to be revised by council to create a more “user-friendly format for budget considerations.”
In the revised report, the average revenue sharing contribution from the municipal districts identified is 4.06 per cent of annual net taxes. The average contribution as a per cent of taxes from contributing municipalities was pegged at 1.52 per cent. The primary focus of the report is on operational funding for recreation.
The Town of Taber (pop. 8,428) contributes 1.85 per cent of their net taxes to recreation. According to the report, the M.D. of Taber (pop. 7,173) contributes 1.02 per cent of their net tax as a contribution to recreation.
This amounts to $156,787 in operating funding contributed to the town annually by the M.D. (based on per cent of users being from the M.D., and obtained through user surveys).
“You will note that the overall average is considerably higher than the funding Taber currently receives from the M.D. of Taber,” reads a statement in administration’s background at council’s Sept. 10 regular meeting, where the report was presented. “What we know is that residents of the M.D. of Taber utilize the recreation facilities in Taber, and that the portion provided to support those services is very low compared to other municipalities.”
Under the revised Municipal Government Act (MGA), there are new requirements for neighbouring municipalities to develop an Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework, and recreation is one of the five main areas of consideration.
“I think this was a brilliant idea to do a comparison between different municipalities,” said Coun. Garth Bekkering. I think there’s some very good information here. I think this is proper ammunition for any discussion with our neighbouring municipality on the ICF (Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework) negotiations.”
Administration is currently working toward the development of a Regional Recreation Master Plan, which should be able to outline areas where services could be shared, delivered and funded going forward.
“Our interest wasn’t to provide you with a recommendation or the beginning of a negotiating strategy, or a number to start with,” said CAO Cory Armfelt. “Our intention — and I think the intention of the original motion — was simply to provide council with information on what other municipalities are doing around this recreation funding sharing arrangement.”
Eleven other recipient/contributing municipal relationships were analyzed by administration with regard to operational spending:
1) Barrhead (pop. 4,579) contributes 6.39 per cent of net tax to recreation, while the County of Barrhead (pop. 6,288) contributes 3.61 per cent. This amounts to a $312,679 (or 0.034 per cent of the county’s taxable assessment, whichever is greater) in operating funding contributed annually to the town by the county.
2) Brooks (pop. 14,450) contributes 0.59 per cent of net tax to recreation, while the County of Newell (pop. 7,524) contributes 0.25 per cent. This amounts to a $75,000 in operating funding contributed annually to the city by the county.
3) Edson (pop. 8,414) contributes 7.5 per cent of net tax to recreation, while Yellowhead County (pop. 10,995) contributes 1.47 per cent. This is calculated based on 35 per cent of the net deficit of the recreation department ($830,524 in 2016) as operating funding contributed annually to the town by the county.
4) Hinton (pop. 9,882) contributes 1.54 per cent of net tax to recreation, with Yellowhead County (pop. 10,995) contributing 0.31 per cent. This is calculated based on 7.75 per cent of the operating/capital recreation budget ($179,380 in 2016) and a population formula for operating funding contributed annually to the town by the county.
5) Lacombe (pop. 13,057) contributes 4.13 per cent of net tax to recreation, with Lacombe County (pop. 10,343) contributing two per cent. This is based on 30 per cent of the cost deficit and estimated users from the county ($544,000 in 2016) to determine operating funding contributed annually to the city by the county.
6) Pincher Creek (pop. 3,642) contributes 7.58 per cent of net tax to recreation, with the M.D. of Pincher Creek (pop. 2,965) contributing 2.96 per cent. This amounts to $318,800 (based on per capita) in operating funding contributed annually to the town by the county.
7) Rocky Mountain House (pop. 6,635) contributes 9.25 per cent of net tax to recreation, with Clearwater County (pop. 8,827) contributing 1.66 per cent. This amounts to $750,000 (50 per cent of cost sharing) in operating funding contributed annually to the town by the county.
8) Strathmore (pop. 13,756) contributes 1.86 per cent of net tax to recreation, with Wheatland County (pop. 8,788) contributes 0.62 per cent. This amounts to $200,000 (based on per capita) in operating funding contributed annually to the city by the county.
9) Sylvan Lake (pop. 14,816) contributes 0.008 per cent and 0.006 per cent of net tax to recreation, while Red Deer County (pop. 19,541) contributes 0.002 per cent, and Lacombe County (pop. 10,343) contributes 0.003 per cent. This amounts to $127,000 annually from Red Deer County and $100,000 annually from Lacombe County (flat rates based on services provided) in operating funding contributed to the city by the counties.
10) Wainwright (pop. 6,270) contributes 3.77 per cent of net tax to recreation, while the M.D. of Wainwright (pop. 4,479) contributes 0.77 per cent. This amounts to $212,500 annually in operating funding contributed to the town by the M.D.
11) Whitecourt (pop. 10,204) contributes 6.83 per cent of net tax to recreation, with Woodlands County (pop. 4,754) contributes 4.48 per cent. This is based on recreation cost sharing as a percentage of population at 24.8 per cent ($850,000 in 2016), making up operating funding contributed to the town by the M.D.
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to accept the Municipal Revenue Sharing Report as information.