Albertans don't need more taxes, says Wildrose Party

Alberta's Wildrose Party says there's no need for the provincial government to give more tax powers to municipalities.

Opposition party suggests plan to give municipalities more control over funding without hiking taxes

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith says her party's idea would provide municipalities with stable funding without resorting to raising taxes on Alberta families. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Alberta's Wildrose Party says there is no need for the provincial government to give more tax powers to municipalities.

The City of Calgary is looking at a list of 27 different ways of raising revenues and hopes to use some of them if it can reach a deal with the province on a city charter.

The Wildrose Party is against that idea but says it has a plan to give municipalities more control over their money without hiking taxes.

The party says it would help municipalities with their infrastructure needs.

Leader Danielle Smith says the province should transfer 10 per cent of all taxes — including personal and corporate income taxes, education tax, tobacco tax and fuel tax —  and 10 per cent of any budget surplus to municipalities to spend as they see fit.

“There is a way to make sure municipalities have the dollars they need without raising taxes, and we believe this is it,” Smith said in a release. 

“The 10/10 community infrastructure transfer will result in more money reaching municipalities and it will do so without burdening Alberta families with new taxes.”

Smith says under the plan, municipalities would share in nearly $2 billion in the 2015-16 budget year — which is $500 million more than they are currently getting.

She says the plan delivers more stable funding than the grant system and avoids the need for municipalities to fight for new taxing powers.

Wildrose MLA and finance critic Rob Anderson says Albertans don't need any more taxes. He says governments need to use tax money more wisely.

"They pay enough. We already collect as a province more taxation per person than any province in the country — that's a true stat. I mean people like to say, 'Oh, this flat tax is such a problem' and so forth — it's not. We collect a ton of money through our taxation system, so we've got a lot of money coming in."

But Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes says the plan is flawed.

"Today the opposition reiterated their 10-10 scheme for funding municipalities, a proposal which has already been shown to leave municipalities with less, not more provincial funding," he said.

"In the current fiscal year our government is providing $1.98 billion to municipalities. The opposition proposal would cut $250 million from that funding."

He said the Wildrose plan also fails to include a host of programs currently in place to help municipalities like family and community support services, municipal police assistance grants, 911 call center support and family and community housing funding.

With files from The Canadian Press