Alta. RMs want tax exemption

EDMONTON — Alberta rural municipalities want an exemption from the provincial carbon levy.

“We don’t believe that municipalities should have to pay the carbon levy,” said Al Kemmere, president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties.

“It is a provincial levy we have to pay and pass on the extra costs to ratepayers.”

If it was rebated, the money could be returned to support badly needed municipal projects.

Municipalities suggested a carbon exemption for providing public services such as roads and buildings and want assurances that there won’t be a tax on a tax when the national levy is imposed next year.

Delegates to the association’s March 21 spring meeting in Edmonton also passed a resolution asking the province for an exemption for all food production. Farmers do not have to pay tax on marked fuel, and greenhouses were granted an exemption on natural gas. No other exemptions are available.

At this juncture, the provincial approach is to deliver programs to improve energy efficiency. However, projects that may work well in urban settings do not transfer to rural communities.

“Our rural residents don’t have access to some of the things that towns and cities have,” Kemmere said in an interview.

“Even access to a taxi or public transit. We can’t put in public transit to the same effectiveness you have in the city.”

Residents of remote rural municipalities need to drive to schools, doctors or recreational activities, which could easily be an hour away.

“We don’t have the same opportunities to build efficiencies in the same way cities do,” he said.

A municipal carbon levy committee is looking at the impacts of the tax on rural municipalities, transition programs for closing coal fired electricity plants and effects on residents. A report should be coming at the end of August, he said.

Prices are starting to increase, and organizations are concerned the federal levy next year could add to the tax burden.

“We have to realize the carbon levy program is not just a provincial levy program,” he said. “Our federal government has also said, ‘thou shalt have a carbon levy.’ ”

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