Council icy on linear assessment freeze

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Athabasca County is not happy about how the province is handling linear assessment.

County council voted unanimously in favour of a motion by Coun. Kevin Haines to send out a letter expressing its concern with the province’s decision to freeze linear assessment year modifiers to 2016 models. The motion was made at council’s Jan. 25 meeting and said the letter will be sent to the premier, municipal affairs minister, area MLAs and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC).

The provincial government’s decision to freeze the modifiers, against the recommendations of contracted government consultants will cost Athabasca County an estimated $773,000 in tax revenue in 2018, according to an administrative report presented at the meeting.

“What it means is the loss of that revenue is added upon the backs of the remainder of our taxpayers,” said county manager Ryan Maier during the meeting.

Deputy Reeve Warren Griffin said the province’s decision stands in contrast to its push for inter-municipal collaboration and cost sharing.

“We don’t have an unlimited bag of money here,” Griffin said. “We keep getting asked to do more and collaborate more and then they do this to us.”

Coun. Penny Stewart said since the province is already sending out its 2018 assessment numbers, it is too late to hope for a change this year.

“We’re stuck with it,” Maier replied. “Based on the history of this government, they don’t change their mind very often.”

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Joseph Quigley