Police Funding Model Accountability & Transparency
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the AUMA also advocate for the Government of Alberta to treat the Police Funding Model requisition to municipalities like the education and housing authority requisitions by mandating their inclusion on assessment and tax notices provided to property owners.
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta began issuing annual invoices in March 2021 to municipalities for the purposes of collecting the municipal cost share under the new Police Funding Model Regulation;
WHEREAS the Ministry of Municipal Affairs 2021-2024 Business Plan (February 2021) notes that Key Objective 2.2 is to “encourage municipal accountability and transparency”;
WHEREAS key Objective 2.3 of the Municipal Affairs Business Plan clearly delineates the role of the Ministry to “oversee the property tax and assessment system”;
WHEREAS the requisition by the province under the Police Funding Model Regulation is neither transparent or accountable to individual property taxpayers; and
WHEREAS a request for decision sponsored by the Town of Forestburg was adopted at the Spring 2021 Municipal Leaders’ Caucus that proposes AUMA lobby the provincial government to make the necessary amendment to section 382(1) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to allow municipalities the ability to pass a special tax bylaw to raise revenues for police service costs should they deem it appropriate to do so.
A minor legislative change to the definition of “requisition” in section s. 326(1)(a) of the MGA would permit municipalities to clearly communicate the costs associated with policing to residents. Unlike other municipal expenses, the cost share portion of the Police Funding Model is outside of the municipality’s control.
The Police Funding Model is in effect an external requisition that does not take into account other related expenses like shared regional peace officer programs, and it is important to ensure transparency of policing costs being imposed on municipalities.
The Police Funding Model also will not result in additional front-line resources being deployed to many communities. Adding a line for the Police Funding Model requisition to the tax assessment notice would ensure a clear line of sight for residents on this additional cost.
It is unclear if the Government of Alberta will act on the recommendation from the Spring 2021 Municipal Leaders’ Caucus request enabling the mechanism for a special tax bylaw and even if approved, some communities may choose not to adopt such a bylaw but may wish to be able to directly communicate the impact of the Police Funding Model to local rate payers.
A response from Municipal Affairs on March 15, 2022 stated:
“The police funding model was implemented on April 1, 2020, with invoicing for policing costs beginning in January 2021. While tax revenue is a primary source to fund municipal costs, this process recognizes that municipalities have the flexibility to pay their police funding model invoice through a variety of sources, rather than just tax revenue, as would be the case if the funding were requisitioned. If the Municipal Government Act was amended so that policing costs could be collected through a special tax or through a separate tax requisition and tax rate, this would add red tape and require greater administrative efforts by municipalities.
Municipalities may use a variety of means to communicate with residents and taxpayers about the use of tax revenue. Some municipalities share information on the use of tax dollars through their websites, newspaper advertisements, social media, or informational inserts with the tax notices.”
ABmunis’ Rating of the Government’s Response
Intent not met – further action will be taken.
ABmunis’ Notes and Actions
The March 2022 response from the Minister of Municipal Affairs stated that “…if the MGA was amended so that policing costs could be collected through a special tax or through a separate tax requisition and tax rate, this would add red tape and require greater administrative effort by municipalities”. The Minister also communicated that the current process provides flexibility for how a municipality pays their police funding model invoice.