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2018 January

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1. Municipal Administrator’s Corner

Key Tasks in January and February

January

  • Add year-end penalties for taxes in arrears to tax roll, if not already done.
  • Present Administrator’s bond or proof of equivalent insurance to council at first meeting in January.
  • Submit monthly Education Property Tax (EPT) remittance to school division for December collections and monthly report (Form H2) to school division and to the ministry.
  • By January 15: Submit Annual EPT Return (Form H) to School Division, the Ministry of Government Relations and the Ministry of Education.
  • Complete year-end procedures to prepare for audit.
  • Confirm date of audit with auditor.
  • By January 20: Rural municipalities must provide organized hamlet board(s) statements of revenues and expenditures for the previous year.
  • By January 20: remit PST payable for 2017 to Ministry of Finance to avoid fines and penalties.
  • By January 31: Register tax liens.

February

  • Notify other taxing authorities of any tax exemptions for the purpose of economic development prior to February 1 of first year of agreement.
    • This notification is no longer required for EPT. Instead, municipalities report the total dollar amount of EPT forgone due to local exemptions in Part II of the monthly EPT form.
  • Anytime between now and November 15, submit List of Lands with Arrears of Taxes to head of council, in duplicate.
  • Review previous year’s revenues and expenditures and prepare for budgeting process.
  • Review signing authorities, committee appointments and board appointments (including library board), municipal officials’ appointments (building inspector, pest control officer, bylaw enforcement officer, etc.) and auditor and solicitor appointments.
  • Council may appoint a weed inspector, set remuneration and notify the Director of the Crops Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture of the appointment.
  • Appoint Board of Revision members and Secretary and set remuneration. Review contract if using an independent service provider.
  • In rural municipalities, review election calendar as 2018 is an election year for even-numbered division councillors.
  • Beginning in January 2018 and beyond, EPT collected by municipalities is to be remitted directly to the Ministry of Finance by the 10th day of the following month (beginning February 2018) to avoid fines and penalties. To learn more, read Information for Municipalities Concerning Education Property Tax.

Remember that a detailed legislative and operational calendar is available online.

Tax Enforcement Webinar

Resources to help municipal officials in the administration of The Tax Enforcement Act, are now available online. A Tax Enforcement Webinar (part one of a three-part series) introduces municipal administrators to the first steps of the tax enforcement process, including permission to shorten the six-month waiting period.

This recorded webinar and others training videos are available for viewing under Administrator Training Webinars.

Note: You will be required to register to view this webinar and others.

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2. 2018 Municipal Heritage Forum

The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport and the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association (SEDA) are hosting a municipal heritage forum in Saskatoon on Thursday, February 22, 2018.

The forum will feature case studies that show how four Saskatchewan communities created citizen-driven, heritage and culture-based visions for economic and community development, and what they are doing to turn their visions into reality.

The forum will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn more about public engagement and how to use heritage and culture resources to achieve community development goals. Visit the SEDA website to learn more or to register.

Note: This forum is accredited for professional development credits from SEDA and the Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute.

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3. Ministry of Government Relations to Host Tradeshow Booth at Annual SUMA Convention in Regina

If you’re looking for information about public safety, municipal legislation, community planning or other related topics, then stop by the Ministry’s trade show booth at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) convention this February.

Located near the northeast corner inside the International Trade Centre at booths 170, 171, 186 and 187 at Evraz Place, the Ministry will have staff available from Emergency Management and Fire Safety, the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program, Building Standards and Licensing, along with other program areas to answer questions.

The SUMA Convention runs from Sunday, February 4 to Wednesday, February 7 at Evraz Place’s various facilities such as the Queensbury Convention Centre and the International Trade Centre near Lewvan Drive and Saskatchewan Drive.

For more convention details, visit SUMA’s website.

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4. Separate School Divisions that Choose to set their own Mill Rate for Education Property Tax

Separate school boards have the constitutional right to levy mill rates by bylaw according to rules set out in provincial legislation.

Municipalities will continue to collect and remit funds to the separate school board directly when a bylaw that was passed in accordance with legislation is in place. The province will continue to fund these separate school divisions for the difference between what was collected in EPT and the total operating funding calculated using the funding formula. For 2018, three separate school boards will levy mill rates by bylaw:

  1. Christ the Teacher RCSSD;
  2. St. Paul’s RCSSD; and
  3. Light of Christ RCSSD.

When a municipality is collecting EPT for a separate school division that has a bylaw, the return information must be:

  • submitted in SETS (for information purposes only); and
  • sent to the separate school division.

The municipalities that will remit EPT collections directly to the three separate school divisions as described above are listed in the following chart.

Collections to be Provided to School Division
Christ the Teacher RCSSD   St. Pauls RCSSD   Light of Christ RCSSD
Cana (RM)
Ebenezer
Garry (RM)
Good Lake (RM)
Goodeve
Grayson (RM)
Insinger (RM)
Killaly
McLeod (RM)
Melville
Orkney (RM)
Rhein
Saltcoats (RM)
Sliding Hills(RM)
Stanley (RM)
Theodore
Tullymet (RM)
Waldron
Wallace (RM)
Yorkton
  Aberdeen
Aberdeen (RM)
Bayne (RM)
Biggar
Biggar (RM)
Blucher (RM)
Clavet
Colonsay (RM)
Corman Park (RM)
Dundurn (RM)
Grant (RM)
Hoodoo (RM)
Humboldt
Humboldt (RM)
Martensville
Saskatoon
Viscount
Viscount (RM)
Vonda
Warman
Wolverine (RM)
  North Battleford
Round Valley (RM)
Spiritwood
Spiritwood (RM)
Unity

The other separate school divisions which did not pass a bylaw according to The Education Act, 1995 following the last general election year cannot set their own mill rates for 2018. EPT collected in 2018 must be remitted to the province. The Education Property Tax Act became law on January 1, 2018 and replaced the relevant provisions in The Education Act, 1995. Now any separate school division can pass a bylaw to levy its own school tax and it will come into effect the following year. This delay is for practical reasons to give municipalities and the province time to anticipate the change in payment of tax collected. Any bylaws set by the other separate school boards in 2018 will not take effect until 2019.

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5. Civic Address Registry Training

The Civic Address Registry (CAR) is a province-wide standardized system of identifying and locating homes and business. The registry helps dispatchers and emergency responders (such as police, fire and ambulance) to find your property quickly. CAR is especially important when emergency responders are unfamiliar with an area, or when the emergency cannot be seen easily.

In response to overwhelming demand, additional free webinars are available for rural and urban administrators, scheduling into January and February 2018. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis since the training is customized to the communities participating in the webinars.

To register for any of the free webinars listed below, first set up an account on the Civic Address Registry website. (Download this checklist for information on how to create an account.) Then email caradmin@pa911.com indicating which of the following webinars you wish to attend.

Level 1 – Overview and Address Validation
Time: 1.5 hours
Registration limit: 3 communities per session
Description:
Learn detailed information about CAR, its benefits to public safety and the specific workflow steps when participating in civic addressing. Also included is information regarding signage, responsibilities of the community and of Sask911, and community address status and address maintenance. As this session is customized to your community, you will identify what addresses may be missing and will discuss the best practices when validating civic addressing.

Level 2 – Road Name Update Process
Time: 1 hour
Registration limit: 3 communities per webinar
Prerequisite: You should this training shortly after completing Level 1.
Description:
Gain insight on how Saskatchewan road data is maintained and how its upkeep is important to the effectiveness of Sask911. As this session is customized to your community, you will get help to identify any road discrepancies, to identify key agencies involved in the update process, and be provided the information and tools you need to ensure that your community roads are up to date for the benefit of public safety.

Level 3 – Website Address Updates
Time: 2 hours
Registration limit: 1 community per webinar
Prerequisite: Level 1 and 2 training, plus completion of civic address validation and finalized road updates for your community
Description:
This one-on-one training provides detailed instruction on how to use the online CAR Web Mapping Application to update your civic addresses. Examples specific to your community are used to demonstrate the tools and functionality of the application as well as editing best practices. You will need an ‘Editor’ account for this training.

Call the Provincial Help Desk at 1-844-407-0077 or email caradmin@pa911.com if you have questions about the above webinars or the Civic Address Registry program.

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6. Overland Flood Insurance

Saskatchewan insurance providers recently started to offer policies that protect homeowners from overland flooding. The Government of Saskatchewan advises all property owners to obtain adequate coverage for their property.

To learn more, read this Overland Flood Insurance fact sheet or contact your insurance company.

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7. Education Property Tax Exemption and Abatement Application Process

The Education Property Tax Act and its regulations came into effect January 1, 2018. The rules about granting an exemption or abatement for education property tax (EPT) have changed starting in the 2018 taxation year. Details can be found in sections 9-11 of The Education Property Tax Regulations.

There are two thresholds above which the province will review EPT exemptions and abatements:

  1. $25,000 or more for a single property or parcel of land in a tax year;
  2. Loss of more than 5% of the total EPT levy for the municipality.

EPT exemptions or abatements of less than $25,000 in a single year will not be reviewed by the Ministry unless the municipality exempts/abates more than 5% of the total EPT levy for the municipality.

Only municipalities can apply to the province to review EPT exemptions and abatements that are over the thresholds established. The municipality may need to work with the beneficiary to obtain the information necessary to complete the appropriate appendix for the application form.

Exemption/Abatements for $25,000+

When a municipality seeks approval from the province to exempt or abate EPT revenue that is $25,000 or more for a single property or parcel of land in the tax year, the applications will be categorized into three main categories:

  1. Economic Development;
  2. Housing; and
  3. Non-Profit/ Community based organization.

A fourth category called “Other” may be used if an unusual or unprecedented circumstance arises that is not captured in one of the three main categories. Applications submitted under this category will be assessed case by case based on their merits.

The criteria to be used by the ministry to make a decision have been outlined to help municipalities when filling out the application form and corresponding appendix.

Application Process

STEP 1: MUNICIPALITY COMPLETES APPLICATION (Only municipalities can apply)
Municipality completes the application which must include:

  • Form (required)
  • Appendix (required)
    • Choose one: Economic Development, Housing, Non-profit or Community Based Organization, or Other.
  • Supporting documents (as necessary and that are noted in the Appendix).

STEP 2: SEND APPLICATION TO PROVINCE
The municipality sends the request to the province by email at ept@gov.sk.ca

STEP 3: PROVINCE REVIEWS REQUEST
The municipality may be contacted to clarify information or provide further information if required.

STEP 4: DECISION
The province will either approve or deny the request and inform the municipality of the decision. If a request is denied, reasons will be provided.

The goal is to inform the municipality of the decision within 15 business days. Applications that require further information or that are incomplete and require resubmission will take longer to process. This is why it is important to fill out all the necessary parts of the application when first submitting the request.

APPEAL
If a request is denied, the municipality has the option to appeal the decision to the Minister.

Note: Appeals are based on the information from the original request. If the municipality wishes to have the application reviewed with new/additional information, it must be resubmitted through the regular review process as outlined above.

Exempting/Abating 5% or more of the Total EPT Levy

Municipalities that plan to exempt or abate 5% or more of the total EPT levy for the municipality within a single tax year must seek approval from the province.

Requests to exempt or abate 5% or more of the EPT levy will be reviewed on a case by case basis. It is important to contact the province by email at ept@gov.sk.ca as soon as possible if the municipality plans to waive 5% or more of the EPT levy in order to commence the approval process.

Contact
For more information about EPT, visit Information for Municipalities Concerning Education Property Tax or access the application forms. You can also contact the Ministry of Government Relations by email ept@gov.sk.ca or phone 306-787-5944.

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8. Municipal Minute - Conflict of Interest

Scan any headline these past couple of months and you’re sure to find mention of investigations and law suits into potential conflicts of interest.

It’s a serious matter and one that might scare any potential politician from running for office. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In November of 2015, the province strengthened rules on conflict of interest by way of Bill 186. Legislative changes were put in place to provide clearer direction and guidance for elected officials to prevent conflicts at the local level.

RM158 Administrator Kim McIvor When the new rules came into effect, we acted right away,” says Kim McIvor, the administrator for the RM of Edenwold No. 158, which encompasses the high-density subdivision of Emerald Park and other large acreage developments just east of Regina along the Trans Canada.

“We’re a big diverse area, and one of the only rural municipalities in the province that provides its own water and sewer,” he says proudly. “Reporters are always at our council meetings getting the latest news, and we even have a ratepayer who’s an avid blogger who regularly comes to meetings. We’re in the public eye a lot, which means having a system in place to keep things transparent and accountable is critical. We welcomed the changes to legislation. It’s made our jobs easier.”

Under the new rules, council members, including mayors and reeves, were required by law to file – and annually update and submit – a Public Disclosure Statement. In addition, councils are now required to adopt an Employee Code of Conduct and a Council Procedures Bylaw.

“We didn’t mind getting this done at all – in fact we relished it – because it keeps everyone on their toes,” explains Kim. “And it helps the public realize that everything we do is above board. If a member of the public comes in and complains that there might be a conflict with a councillor when it comes to a piece of land or a development project, we can say – without any doubt – that everyone has disclosed their personal and private interests in the matter.”

Kim says the RM’s procedures bylaw sets out step-by-step guidelines about what council members must do if a matter is discussed that they may have a personal interest in, from abstaining from voting, to refraining from participating in the discussion.

He admits that the current RM council is a “pretty good bunch” and if anyone has an inkling that they might be in a conflict of interest, they leave the table.

“It gives members confidence that it’s OK to be a business person or have interests in your community – that’s probably why he or she ran for council in the first place, because they care about the growth and wellbeing of their community. They’re not in it for the money, but for doing good,” adds Kim. “Having conflict of interest guidelines in place simply makes sure there’s no goofy stuff going on, and the only time we hit the headlines is for good news.”

For example, the RM of Edenwold No. 158 and the Town White City worked together to form a local wastewater authority for their immediate region. That authority – formed by two municipal governments – is now working to build a new wastewater treatment facility that will be funded in part by the federal and provincial governments.

“I can understand how filling out a public interest disclosure form might be daunting, or you might not want to let others know your business, but it’s for your own good. It lets the public know you have their best interests at heart, and it keeps the headlines focused on the positive.”

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