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.
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 budget can be found here.
The finance department has the responsibility for billing and collecting property taxes, administering the BC Home Owner Grant Program and the BC Property Tax Deferment Program, as well as the Annual Tax Sale.
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 50% 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.
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.
Rachelle Willick, Chief Financial Officer
Katie Cooper, Accounting Clerk