AB municipal governments on unsustainable spending path

According to the 2016 Alberta Municipal Spending Watch report Alberta municipalities continue to spend far more than what's sustainable on day-to-day operating spending. The 7th edition of the report ranks 180 municipalities and reveals that inflation-adjusted operating expenditures by the vast majority of Alberta municipalities has risen by 75%, compared to a 27% increase in population from 2004 to 2014.

AB Spending & Population Growth, 2004-2014

Key Findings

Excessive municipal spending in Alberta cost households an average of $10,289 from 2004 to 2014, with $1,754 of that in 2014 alone.

Alberta’s population has increased by 27 per cent over the decade, while real municipal operating spending grew by 7 per cent – roughly three times faster over the same period.

An astounding 96 per cent of municipalities have increased spending at an unsustainable pace over this period. Only seven have kept operating spending growth at or below population and inflation growth since 2004.

Province-wide averages show that real operating spending per capita in 2004 was $1,419, and was $1,955 in 2014, an increase of 38 per cent.

Municipalities overspent by $14.5 billion since 2004, and $2.6 billion in 2014 alone. Over half of municipal operating spending across Alberta was allocated toward salaries, wages, and benefits. 

The report recommends municipalities and the province:

  •          control spending increases to the rate of population growth,
  •          adopt sustainable wage growth policies,
  •          contract out services to the private sector if cost-efficient,
  •          reject new taxation powers through City Charter agreements,
  •          create a municipal auditor general to conduct performance based audits.

Read the full 2016 Alberta Municipal Spending report.

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