Report: How to Protect Taxpayers Under New Charter Legislation
The Manning Centre released a report today that outlines three specific taxpayer protection measures the provincial government would be wise to pursue on any proposed city charter legislation.
“If the provincial government soon awards municipal governments, politicians and local municipal staff additional taxing, spending, and borrowing powers, they may wish to consider the forgotten group—taxpayers,” said Mark Milke, policy consultant and author of the report: Taxpayer-friendly City Charters. “If the province decides to allow municipalities new taxing, spending and borrowing powers, the province should also match that with new taxpayer protection measures as well. The report outlines a few ideas as to how that can be done.”
Last fall, the provincial government indicated it would bring forward legislation in the spring of 2016 to provide Alberta’s large urban centres with additional powers by passing city charter legislation; similar to a ‘constitution,’ but for cities. Such charters have the potential to give large urban centres sweeping powers in terms of taxation, political decisions and other matters.
In Taxpayer-friendly City Charters, Milke outlines three key ideas that would be beneficial for the public:
- Voter Approval – If the province proposes to give municipalities additional powers to tax, spend and borrow, taxpayers need an opportunity to approve the proposals through a province-wide referendum.
- Transparency and Accountability – Any existing constraints, including requirements for transparency, should be duplicated at the local level and explicit in any charter legislation. While these requirements appear self-evident, some literature and multiple local politicians have proposed otherwise.
- Ensure Local Voter Control – Existing referendum and plebiscite requirements in the Alberta Municipal Act – that currently allow voters to force local referendums – should be replicated in charter legislation.
“If the province includes these ideas in their legislation, they will increase accountability and provide taxpayers with tools to push for better public policy at the local level,” added Milke.
To download the report - click here