Wheatland County council directed its administration to draft a resolution for the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) spring convention, which will be held in March 2024, regarding a proposed new funding model and a new process for rural municipalities facing dissolution during its regular Tuesday, November 21 council meeting.
The new funding model could potentially help encompassing counties, which would absorb a dissolved municipality, to offset infrastructure and other costs required by the municipality to continue providing services to residents following dissolution of a village or town municipality.
“The bottom line, my critical priority, is that we’re asking for more adequate funding to follow that dissolution,” Reeve Amber Link shared during the meeting. “For me, this is the ultimate download… the receiving municipality has zero say in whether they receive the municipality or not.”
Division 6 Councillor Glenn Koester noted the province did previously have a funding model in place. He referred to the hamlets of Gleichen and Cluny which had previously been dissolved and taken up by Wheatland County, and which both had had reserve funding. Councillor Koester also noted the Village of Hussar had undergone the process of engaging in an viability review of the municipality, which ultimately resulted in the village receiving a letter from the Minister of Municipal Affairs stating the village had satisfied “the requirements and directives” outlined in a Ministerial Order and would not be subject to dissolution at this time.
It was acknowledged by both Councillor Koester and Reeve Link that in the instance of a municipal dissolution there is a large burden placed upon the receiving municipality, particularly in terms of taking on outstanding or emergent Capital projects. Reeve Link noted these projects may not be fully covered by any pending Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) funding allocated to the dissolved municipality. A new funding model could also negate the receiving municipality from having to implement a local improvement tax on residents to offset or support Capital projects.