Representatives from Woodlands County, Yellowhead County, the Town of Whitecourt, and the Town of Hinton had a meeting last week with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Kaycee Madu, to discuss the proposed changes to the oil and gas assessment model.
Many municipalities are urging the province to hold off on implementing one of four scenarios they are proposing that would change oil and gas assessment for companies. As a result, it means municipalities would see changes to their budgets, losing significant revenue.
Woodlands County Mayor John Burrows says they do not know the long-term effects the scenarios would have beyond one year, as the province did not provide that information. He says the minister has agreed to provide more data for municipalities to look over as part of increased consultation.
Yellowhead County also voiced concern over the long-term effects the scenarios would have on their municipality, as well as which model the province will go with.
Yellowhead County Mayor Jim Eglinski says that in the worst-case scenario, option D, the County will see a loss in revenue of 21 percent. He says this is a significant concern for them.
Eglinski says the municipalities were not consulted on how the government came up with their numbers and scenarios and would like more consultation.
Eglinski noted that overall, the meeting with Minister Madu was productive and he listened to the concerns being brought forth by the municipal leaders in attendance. Eglinski said they are open to negotiating a fair deal with the province that would work for all parties, including municipalities, the province, and the oil and gas companies.
Both Mayor Eglinski and Mayor Burrows explained that Minister Madu has agreed to release data and figures in relation to the four scenarios presented so that municipalities can review them.
The municipalities are welcome to review the numbers and come up with a fifth option to present to the province. They have been given an extension on when they can present the option, with Eglinski saying the end of October was given as a deadline.
Municipalities were initially told they had until the end of the month to discuss the assessment changes before the province would make their announcement, so the extension was a welcomed sign by those in attendance at the meeting.