The Town of Cochrane estimates it will be receiving $1.8 million more in Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding than expected from the Alberta budget tabled yesterday, and Rocky View County's share will jump about $4.2 million.

That will be followed by drastic drops over the next two years to meet a scheduled 25 per cent reduction in MSI funding to all Alberta municipalities.

At this point, town administration estimates Cochrane will receive about $8.1 million in MSI funding and had originally budgeted to receive $6.3 million.

After that, the town will receive somewhere in the neighbourhood of $3 million in the next two provincial budgets, says Mayor Jeff Genung.

Mayor Genung says the town will be reviewing its 10-year capital plan to see what adjustments need to be made.

"We have a fairly robust capital plan, especially in 2021," he says. "I'm not worried about that, it's the long-term, the 10-year financial plan. We allot MSI funding to certain projects in certain areas, and we'll have to do some shifting and readjusting there, I would imagine. That's the details our administration needs some time to work out."

Most Alberta municipalities based their capital plans upon projected provincial infrastructure funding.

In general, Mayor Genung says while the town doesn't like to see reductions, he says it is understandable.

"I'm not blind or immune to what's going on in the province with the pandemic, with the oil, with the economy. I think that this a reasonable budget, all those things considered. We can't continue to have our hand out and expect the province to continue to fund municipalities in the same fashion that they have in the past, and expect them to balance the budget."

Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie explains the government is frontloading the capital funding to help stimulate the economy, create jobs and allow municipalities to take advantage of competitive pricing currently available from the construction sector.

"We wanted to make sure that in order to take advantage of that, municipalities had some money upfront, so there's a front-end load. They will not see a change in this upcoming year, but they will in the two subsequent years for MSI." 

Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin says there's no intention to mislead municipalities.

"That initial bump will be great but it's important to be clear that over the full three years it is a 25 per cent reduction."

According to Alberta Municipal Affairs, Rocky View County will receive $16,452,992, up from $12,280,952 the previous fiscal year.

The 2021-22 Alberta budget includes $1.196 billion in MSI capital and $30 million in MSI operating funding.

Funding will be reduced to $485 million in 2022-23 and 2023-24, resulting in an average funding level of $722 million per year.

MSI is scheduled to be replaced by the Local Government Fiscal Framework in 2024-25, also with $722 million in funding.