The Government of Saskatchewan extends deepest condolences to all the families and friends of those affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.  Support services and resources are available

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2017 November

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1. Municipal Administrator's Corner

Key Tasks in November and December
November

  • Review your municipal year-to-date operating and capital costs and, if needed, amend the operating or capital budget.
  • November is also a good time for municipal councils to begin discussions about the 2018 budget.
  • On or before November 15, the treasurer shall prepare and deliver to the reeve or mayor the list of land in arrears in accordance with The Tax Enforcement Act.
  • On or before November 30, council members are required to submit an annual declaration for the public disclosure statement.
  • Confirm your audit date with your auditor.
  • Consider a bylaw to authorize payment of the education property tax (EPT), outside of a meeting, to avoid fines and penalties with the upcoming EPT changes if you don’t already have one in place.

December

  • The final date council may set to allow incentives for prompt payment of taxes is December 1.
  • Review section 369 of The Municipalities Act (MA) regarding adding amounts to tax roll. Although the amounts to be added under this section can be made at any time during the year, you may wish to add this to your review processes around this time of year. An example is a review of the utility arrears (clause 369(1)(b) of MA). If arrears are to be added to taxes, issue notice to affected owners and tenants. Remember, notice must be sent by registered mail at least 30 days before amounts are to be added to the tax roll and a council resolution or council policy is required to authorize the addition of the arrears to the tax roll.
  • On or before December 31, unpaid amounts for custom work may be added to taxes (section 405 of MA).
  • On or before December 31, amounts for another municipality to provide emergency service may be added to taxes (section 42(3) of MA).
  • On or before December 31, modifications to the assessment roll to reflect current year’s changes must be completed.

Remember that a detailed legislative and operational calendar is available online on www.saskatchewan.ca.

Webinars
Government Relations is developing webinars on a number of topics. The newest up and coming webinars are related to Tax Enforcement. The Tax Enforcement webinars will be in three parts; part one will be available within the month.

Once complete, the webinars will be uploaded to the View Administrator Training Webinars page, so keep checking to see what is new. This is where you will find the webinars for board of revision members and secretaries as mentioned in previous newsletters.

Fire Bans
Very dry conditions were experienced in many areas of the province this year. Municipalities are reminded that their local Fire Chief does not have the authority to implement a fire ban, unless they are provided that authority from council. If your council is interested in delegating this authority, they may want to enact a bylaw to do so.

Education Property Tax Filing Changes – Effective January 1, 2018
Information has been sent out regarding the important changes to the monthly filing of your Education Property Tax return.

Your municipality will want to consider adopting a bylaw to authorize this expenditure to be done outside of a council meeting to avoid the new fines and penalties, if you don’t already have one. This bylaw would be similar to what you may already have for payment of salaries, payroll remittances, utility billings, etc. To help you, view the sample expenditure authorization bylaws on our Bylaw Samples page.

Municipal Administrators’ Resource Guide
A Municipal Administrators’ Resource Guide was e-mailed to towns, villages, and RMs on August 16, 2017. This guide (along with other guides, fact sheet and bylaw samples) can be found under the Advisory Services and Municipal Relations section on the Saskatchewan Publications website.

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2. Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Municipal Award Winners

The winners of this year's Saskatchewan Municipal Awards (SMA) were announced last month. The Selection Committee's chosen projects covered seven municipalities:

  • First Place - Downtown Market Square (City of Swift Current)
  • Second Place - Saskatchewan’s Outback: Community Branding Campaign (Town of Carrot River and RM of Moose Range)
  • Third Place - Youth Committee (Town of Kindersley)
  • Regional Cooperation Award - Legacy Regional Protective Services (RM of Wilton and the Towns of Lashburn and Marshall)

The winning rural municipalities will receive their awards at the SARM Midterm Convention in November. The winning urban municipalities will receive their award at 2018 SUMA Convention.

Thanks to SMA’s title sponsor, Affinity Credit Union, whose support is critical to this program. Check out the SMA website for more details.

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3. Changes to 2018 Monthly Education Property Tax Return

As part of the 2017-18 Budget, a key change to the Education Property Tax (EPT) system is that EPT collected by municipalities will be paid to the provincial government’s General Revenue Fund instead of to school divisions. Your monthly EPT return will now be filed electronically with the Ministry of Finance starting with the January 2018 monthly EPT return. This is the return for EPT collected in January 2018. The due date for monthly EPT statements has not changed. The January 2018 EPT return is due by February 10, 2018.

Municipalities will be using the Saskatchewan Electronic Tax Service (SETS) to file their monthly EPT returns. This is the single place to file the monthly EPT returns. EPT returns will also be sent to separate school divisions and to the Ministry of Education when a municipality is collecting EPT for a separate school division that has established the EPT rates by bylaw. Municipalities will continue to collect and remit funds to the separate school board directly when a bylaw is in place.

User ID and passwords for the SETS have been mailed to each municipality. Municipalities are encouraged to log-in and test filing a return using SETS during the month of November. Please contact the Ministry of Finance at 1-800-667-6102 or email SaskTaxInfo@gov.sk.ca with any SETS related questions.

Letters were sent in October to each municipality which contained a link to The Tax Client Readiness Kit. The kit contains important information that you will need to prepare for the changes that will take place on January 1, 2018. Please review it carefully as there are items that will require your attention.

In addition, you received an email regarding the two lunch and learn webinars offered on Tuesday, November 14 and Wednesday, November 22. The webinars will be one hour in length and will start at noon. The topics covered will include:

  • A general overview of the upcoming changes.
  • An actual demonstration of how to navigate and file a monthly EPT return in SETS.
  • Options for submitting monthly EPT payments to the province.
  • Examples of how fines and penalties will be calculated for late payment or submissions.

You can register online now for the “Changes to Education Property Tax” webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 22 if you did not register or attend the November 14 webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

2017 Monthly Returns (Form H2)
The EPT that municipalities collect in December 2017 will be remitted directly to school divisions in January 2018. The December 2017 monthly EPT return will be filed using the existing process. Please complete Form H2 and send a copy of the form to the appropriate school division and the Ministry of Government Relations. The December 2017 monthly EPT return is due on January 10, 2018

2017 Annual EPT Return (Form H)
The 2017 annual EPT return will be filed using the existing process. Please complete Form H and send a copy of the form to the appropriate school division and the Ministry of Government Relations. The 2017 annual EPT return is due on January 15, 2018.

Interim Return
Beginning January 1, 2018, the Interim return, usually submitted in September, is no longer required at all.

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4. New Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the EU

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect as of September 21, 2017, between Canada and the European Union (EU). The ministry recently sent all municipalities a letter providing information on the new agreement.

For municipalities, the purchasing or tendering obligations are likely the most relevant part of this trade agreement. Below is a chart with the thresholds, at or above which the purchasing obligations take effect for CETA. The thresholds for other trade agreements that apply to municipalities are also in the table for comparison.

Purchasing/Tendering Limits (in Canadian Dollars)

Municipalities New West Partnership
Trade Agreement

Part 11, Article 14.1(c)
Canadian Free
Trade Agreement*

Article 504.3(b)
Canada-EU CETA+
Annex 19-2

Goods $75,000 $100,000 $340,600
Services $75,000 $100,000 $340,600
Construction $200,000 $250,000 $8,500,000

*Adjusted for inflation every two years. The values above are for 2017.
+ Amounts are set by Special Drawing Rights ("SDR") that will be regularly adjusted for changes in currency strength. The values above are for 2016-2017.

For most municipal buying, CETA will require little to no change to current practices, as CETA thresholds are much higher than those under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA). If municipalities are operating under the NWPTA and CFTA rules regarding open, transparent and non-discriminatory purchasing, there should be few impacts.

Municipalities are encouraged to make sure they inform themselves of their obligations under these trade agreements. The full text of CETA, including exclusions, as well as other tools, can be found at the Global Affairs Canada website.

If you have any questions, please contact Arla Cameron at 306-787-2171 or arla.cameron@gov.sk.ca.

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