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County of Wetaskiwin responds to pause on proposed assessment model changes

Provincial government announced pause on assessment for oil and gas wells and pipelines.

The provincial government announced a pause on proposed assessment model changes for oil and gas wells and pipelines for the next three years. The announcement was made on Oct. 19, 2020 by the provincial government following the halt mandated by Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard.

In an effort to attract more investment and incentivise job creation in the industry, Minister Allard announced a temporary tax exemption for new wells and pipelines and the government will lower assessment for less productive oil and gas wells.

The County of Wetaskiwin says they are grateful that the proposed changes have been put temporarily on hold.

“I would like to thank the County residents and all rural Albertans who lobbied the provincial government about the proposed changes to the assessment model” said Reeve Josh Bishop. “Your voice and support helped us reach a more acceptable alternative for rural municipalities. We appreciate Ministers Allard’s willingness to listen and work with rural municipalities on this issue and look forward to working together with the Minister and industry to find a long-term solution.”

However, the County also states that the upcoming tax exemption and reduced assessment will impact the County’s future revenues. The County estimates that it will will lose $725, 000 in revenue in 2021.

Under previous proposals the government was considering implementing changes that would drastically reduce the assessment values of the oil and gas wells as well as pipelines. This would result in municipalities, specifically rural municipalities, receiving less revenue.

Under said proposals the County of Wetaskiwin would have lost anywhere from $1.9 million to $3.8 million in yearly revenues.

In addition to the revenue shortfall listed above, the County’s 2021 budget will also be impacted by police costing model increases, reduced grant funding and unpaid taxes.

“Council is working on ways to mitigate the effects of all the recent changes and will leave no stone unturned” stated Reeve Bishop. “Council is striving to limit the change to municipal taxes; however, residents can expect to see a slight increase to their taxes due to the increase in RCMP funding. Residents can also expect to see cuts to the County budget to make up for the revenue shortfall.”