Municipalities face funding uncertainties: AUMA president

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) president Barry Morishita visits city hall in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. Morishita was touring Alberta to receive and share feedback on issues facing municipalities, such as infrastructure funding and policing resources. Peter Shokeir / Daily Herald-Tribune

Share Adjust Comment Print

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) president Barry Morishita stopped in Grande Prairie last Friday during his Alberta tour to share and receive feedback on municipal issues.

The AUMA represents Alberta urban municipalities and works with elected and administrative leaders of these governments to advocate for solutions to municipal issues.

“Municipalities generally have some big, big, big issues,” Morishita said.

“One is sustainable and predictable funding, which we’re working with the government on that. That speaks to (how) 60 per cent of our infrastructure lies in municipalities. We get like nine per cent of the tax dollars, so it’s hard to reconcile keeping that in mind.”

Although feeling confident that the provincial budget wouldn’t make any drastic changes for 2019, Morishita noted that the UCP government was committed to reaching a balanced budget and dealing with debt in the coming years.

“No doubt everyone is a little nervous about what the budget looks like,” Morishita said, suggesting that municipalities could find ways to deliver resources better to save money.

“Our greatest fear about all of that is just not being included in the conversation,” he added. “When you arbitrarily cut things, they might close the door provincially, but then you’re having services coming to municipal councils and say, ‘Hey, I can’t do this now. I’ve just been cut.’”

Another priority for the AUMA is improving resources for policing services. Morishita expressed confidence that municipalities would “remain whole” regarding 2019 police funding from the province.

“The government made it pretty clear in their election platform that policing was a priority,” he said.

“We just need to work together to find better solutions so we’re containing costs, we’re not escalating them.”