As you’ve probably heard the Alberta Government rescinded the Education Property Tax Mitigation Program for fast growing municipalities. For the average Chestermere household you can expect a $400 increase in this year’s tax bill and a further $60 or so next year. Before you start choosing a rope, this has nothing to do with the town. 100% of this money goes to general revenue of the Alberta Government to be spent as they choose, such as fat raises for MLAs, $12,000 plane tickets to and empty hotel rooms at the Olympics, or handing 700 million dollars to Royal Dutch Shell, a corporation with annual revenue of over $400 billion and over $30 billion in net profits. Certain members of the Alberta Government are now claiming that we, along with numerous other municipalities in Alberta, were somehow not paying our “fair share” under a program that the same Government introduced in the first place, presumably to increase fairness. This is disingenuous to say the least, as is the claim by Premier Alison Redford that the Government has not increased taxes. Chestermere and the other affected municipalities in Alberta would beg to disagree.
The Government has the right to end this program. However it is mean-spirited and wrong to slam us with no advance notice. Hitting every property owner in Chestermere with a sudden $400 tax bill will hurt families and seniors on fixed incomes. It will also hurt local business by sucking millions of dollars out of the economy.
As you may have guessed, I’m somewhat pissed off. I have started a petition to the Alberta Legislature to “urge” the Alberta Government (that’s all we can do under the legislation) to phase this increase in over 4 or more years so people can budget for it. Petitions will be available at the Whitecappers, Bruce McAllister’s constituency office in the Safeway plaza, the Town Hall, and various other locations around town. Bruce McAllister, our MLA, has agreed to present this petition to the legislature, hopefully in around 3 weeks. My hope is that other municipalities blindsided by this will do the same. The more people sign, the more force the petition will have. If you can vote in this province, you can sign the petition (only once, though, please!).
For further information or if you want to help you may contact Pat or myself at 403-273-5108 (email email@example.com). Alternatively contact Town Council (www.chestermere.ca). Should you wish to thank Alison Redford for this little surprise she may be reached at Alison.Redford@assembly.ab.ca or 403-310-0000, ask for 427-2251.
There is nothing partisan about this. Chestermere residents are proud Albertans willing to pay our fair share. We have a right to expect and indeed deserve better treatment from our Provincial Government.