The primary function of the District of Fort St. James finance department is to provide financial management information to Council, municipal staff, the public and other governments.  They also oversee Property Taxes, Utility Billings and cash management.

Financial Planning

We are inviting residents to share their feedback with the District of Fort St. James on our Financial Planning goals and priorities to inform the 2022-2027 budget. Residents are being asked to participate in the survey between September 23, 2021 and October 25, 2021. Through the budget process, we are looking for public input to identify priorities for District spending and ideas for how the District can deliver a balanced budget, as mandated for municipal governments by provincial legislation, while maintaining (and enhancing) services most important to you.

By participating in this process and taking the “Citizen Budget” survey, you will inform the District’s budget. Interested in joining the conversation? Find the survey here.

Wondering what happens next? Your feedback will be presented to Council and discussed in an open meeting, though individual comments will not be attributed to any person. Mayor and Council will consider the public feedback, outline a strategy, and provide staff direction to prepare a budget. Want to stay informed about the budget? Dates for budget meetings are not available yet, but will be posted on the District’s website when they are confirmed.

The finance department works with Council and department managers to prepare an annual budget and a five year projection of operating and capital expenditures for review and approval by council. A copy of the Annual Financial Plan can be found here.

Property Taxes

The finance department has the responsibility for billing and collecting property taxes, administering the  BC Property Tax Deferment Program, as well as the Annual Tax Sale.

Utility Billing

Water, Sewer and Garbage statements  (utility bills) are mailed semi-annually for all utility accounts. Semi-annual payments are due in full by the last working day of April and October.

Seniors (65 and over in the current year) are eligible for a 40% discount on utilities for their residence, if payment is received in full by the utility due date. A 5% penalty will be applied to all overdue accounts.

Any unpaid utility amounts are transferred to the associated property tax account, as taxes in arrears, on December 31 of each year.

Rates for utilities are set by the municipality annually and are governed by the applicable bylaws, which can be found here.

Municipal Budgets

Local governments must annually adopt a financial plan in accordance with the Local Government Act and the Community Charter. The planning period for the financial plan must include the current fiscal year and the next four fiscal years (five-year plan). At a minimum, the plan must include:

  • Proposed expenditures (operating, capital, interest and principal payment on debt), funding sources (for example, taxes, fees, grants, new borrowing and debenture debt), and transfers to and from reserve funds and surplus
  • Objectives and polices for the fiscal year regarding distribution of funding sources, the distribution of property taxes amongst various property classes, and the use of any permissive tax exemptions

A local government must not budget for a deficit (planned expenditures and transfers to funds cannot exceed planned revenues, transfers from funds, and other cash contributions). However, if actual expenditures and net transfers from the previous year exceed that year’s revenues and contributions, the resulting deficiency must carried forward to the current year’s financial plan as an expenditure.

Municipalities must adopt their financial plans before they adopt their annual tax rate bylaws (which must be adopted before May 15 each year).

The Draft District of Fort St. James Budget is currently available for Public Review and may be found here:

Draft Budget 2021-2025

Contact

Rachelle Willick, Chief Financial Officer
Email: finance@fortstjames.ca

Carrie Constantine, Accounting Clerk
Email: ccontantine@fortstjames.ca

Or call 250-996-8233 for more informaiton.

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