Overall municipal operating costs have been rising three times faster than population growth in Alberta. That's according to a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The CFIB is calling on Alberta municipalities to curb spending warning it will lead to higher taxes, particularly for small businesses.

"In most municipalities across Alberta, businesses — including small businesses — pay much higher mill rates, often two, three, four or even five times more than residents do," said Richard Truscott, Alberta director for the CFIB. "That is the case in Calgary and small businesses certainly are sick of being a cash cow."

The report looked at operating spending in 181 municipalities with populations of more than 1,000 between 2000 and 2011.

Truscott says upcoming civic elections are perfect times to talk about how to address the issue.