Town administration wants to join forces with the City of Airdrie and Rocky View County to advocate for changes to the infrastructure funding formula being considered by the provincial government.
They believe the reduction in funding proposed will have a detrimental effect on capital projects required in rapidly growing mid-sized cities like Cochrane and want to see it changed.
The administration presented a two-prong approach to town council at its committee-of-the-whole meeting on Oct. 3. It wants to see the size of the funding pot increased for mid-sized cities to reflect provincial revenues and to continue to use the existing formula of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) for all Alberta municipalities and not just Edmonton and Calgary.
Kirstin Huybrecht, town manager of Intergovernmental Relations & Corporate Communications, told council the proposed new funding formula for the future Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) will see some of the fastest growing municipalities, including Cochrane, receive less funding in comparison to Edmonton and Calgary through their cities charter.
Municipalities have been told to expect 37 per cent less in funding over the next 10 years than what was provided through MSI. Based upon that current model, Cochrane would receive $3 million in 2024, a $500,000 decrease from what was received in 2022 and anticipated for 2023.
Capital funding currently received through MSI heavily contributes to the completion of capital projects in Cochrane for the last 15 years. The town believes as it continues to grow, so do its capital needs.
Katherine Van Keimpama, town corporate services executive director, told council the proposed LGFF funding model would call upon the town to take on more debt or reduce the size of its reserves in order to complete projects in its current 10-year capital plan.
"As always, we have to take a look at the funding envelope that's available for any capital projects and balance that against the priorities," she told council. "If we have less funding, then we have a couple of options. We can postpone projects, not do them at all, or find another funding source, be that reserves or borrowing."
Administration also intends to continue to actively engage with Alberta Munis in understanding and providing feedback on their proposed funding formula.
During the AB Munis convention, the Mid-Sized Cities Mayor's Caucus that is chaired by Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung expressed concern over funding issue.