This week the Government of Alberta launched the Municipal Measurement Index (MMI), which is an online dashboard for the public to compare various financial details of Alberta’s municipalities. MMI uses existing data from municipal financial and statistical information returns and other public sources to provide visual graphs comparing:
- property taxes
- property assessment
- use of debt
- revenue and expense per capita
- accumulated surplus per capita
AUMA has been anticipating the release of MMI, as it was one of the UCP's election platform commitments. While municipalities are already the most open level of government, AUMA is supportive of any tool that can enhance transparency and disclosure of information at any level of government.
It is universally known and accepted that municipal governments are the most transparent level of government, as every spending decision is deliberated in open public meetings. In addition, municipalities are the strongest financial stewards of public dollars, as they are required to balance their budgets every year.
Despite this, the provincial government continues to call on municipalities for greater transparency and disclosure. This is questionable when the Alberta provincial government faces its own challenges in transparency and disclosure as highlighted in the Auditor General’s fall 2020 report on government finances.
We must remember that each municipality is an independent order of government and has the responsibility to deliver services per the wishes of its residents and businesses. Therefore, any comparisons of financial performance must consider the differences in types and levels of services provided by each municipality, as well as differences in local taxable resources and funding strategies.
Looking ahead, one of AUMA’s concerns is whether MMI will lead to the spread of disinformation and new red tape for municipalities. As such, AUMA is currently reviewing MMI to make sure it is fair and accurate. Any opportunities to improve the tool will be shared with the provincial government and AUMA members.
If members have questions or suggestions on how MMI can be improved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please note that any media inquiries on this topic should continue to be directed to email@example.com.)