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More trick than treat in latest CFIB spending report

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CALGARY, October 31, 2019 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released the 10th edition of the Alberta Municipal Spending Watch Report. The report analyzes operating spending habits of Alberta’s 17 largest municipalities between 2007 - 2017, and once again determines municipalities are increasing their spending at unsustainable rates.

If that isn’t enough to give you the Halloween frights, the report also found that only one of Alberta’s 17 largest municipalities kept spending at a sustainable rate between 2007-2017. On average, real municipal operating spending across all Alberta municipalities increased more than double the rate of population growth from 2007-2017.

“Taxpayers are in for a real shock if municipalities continue down this path of unsustainable spending,” said Keyli Kosiorek, Policy Analyst, Alberta. “Municipalities need to develop long-term plans to manage growth and spend within their means without increasing property taxes on residents and businesses.”

The report also revealed a strong connection between a municipality’s ranking and the number of full-time employees it has relative to the size of its population. Generally, municipalities that have a lower resident per municipal worker ratio operating spending is higher. For example, Airdrie has one full-time worker for every 167 residents. Meanwhile, Strathcona County has 1 full-time worker for every 61 residents. With wages and benefits as the biggest driver of municipal costs its critical taxpayers know how many people work at their city hall.

Three municipalities stood out in the report for their sustainable spending patterns:

  • Airdrie most consistent: consistently one of the top performers, ranking well each year when compared to other municipalities. 
  • Cochrane most improved: the only municipality to see spending growth under that of population growth, meaning tax savings rather than increases.
  • Okotoks most resilient: in response to being hit by the 2013 floods, the municipality ramped up its spending. However, over time Okotoks has shown it’s possible to get back on track, managing to decrease spending considerably in two of the last three years.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact Keyli Kosiorek, Policy Analyst, Alberta, at [email protected] or 403-444-9290.

About CFIB:
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region, including 10,000 in Alberta. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.