Monday, February 13, 2006

Basic Funding in Alberta


A false start and a rebound.

Well we are learning that blogs are like New Year's resolutions -- you start with the best intentions and sure enough the visits to the gym start to be less frequent... you find excuses... (you know the rest)

Since I got a bunch of calls this week about basic Alberta transportation funding issues. Maybe this is a good place to start

Alberta Funding for small transportation providers:

In the beginning was Alberta's Public transit Operating Assistance Grant (PTOAG). This was a conditional grant for Alberta Municipalities: $3.19 per capita for "specialized transit" and about $8.00 per capita for "regular transit."

Then in the effort to slash the Alberta deficit (1994?), PTOAG became the base amount to fund several municipal responsibilities -- linear parks maintenance, extra policing, and transit. To alleviate the strain, the Province helped the Municipalities and made the funds unconditional. They even called the new program an "Unconditional Municipal Grant Program" (UMGP). Local municipalities could spend these funds as they see fit -- in response to local concerns.

The deficit was attacked in 1994. As of 2006, we are debt-free. Unfortunately the UMGP has not been reviewed since 1994. It is locked at the 1994 rates and the amount is fixed as per the municipal population levels of 1994.

A review has been in the works since Aug 2001. Alberta Municipal Affairs, Alberta Transportation and Alberta Seniors were to lead this review. Unfortunately, after the last provincial election, new ministers took on the departments and the review appears be
progressing at a very slow pace (if at all)

Alberta's Rural Development Initiative may have some funding to help facilitate housing seniors in rural communities. Unfortunately this is slowly very progressing. In the meantime, many municipalities took a reduction in their UMGP funding as province initiated a new police funding formula. Reducing some of the UMGP funds in return for some conditional funds for policing.

You can look up how much your municipality receives in UMGP funding at Alberta Municipal Affairs website:
http://www.municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca/mahome/cfml/profiles/index.cfm

You can look up the profile our your community and suggest to your municipal council how they should spend that money ( many municipalities still hand over the entire UMGP amount to their local agencies).

Give it a try!