Plenty to chew on in city’s annual report

Fort St. John City Hall. File photo.

Fort St. John released its annual reports for 2014 this week, offering an inside look at everything from city finances, the biggest taxpayers, the highest paid civic employees, and departmental accomplishments.

Just three members of the public showed up at a 6 p.m. public meeting at city hall Monday evening to take in the annual report. Mayor and council accepted the 2014 statement of financial information at a council meeting earlier that afternoon.

Audited financial statements in the report show the city shrunk its net debt (assets minus liabilities) by more than $8 million, despite budgeting for an increase of more than $5 million.

The city’s net debt sits at $3.4 million, down from nearly $12 million in 2013. The city also has about $44 million in cash and savings in the bank.

Auditors from Sander Rose Bone Grindle have said that puts the city in its best net debt position in the past five years, and strongest cash position in the past 15 years.

“We’re headed in the right direction and taking the right steps,” said city finance director Mike Roy.

“We’re setting ourselves up for the future to address the things that are coming at us.”

The city is carrying about $35 million in long term debt, and has more than $150 million available in future borrowing capacity.

The city collected $79 million in revenues, up significantly from a budgeted $66.8 million, and paid out just over $50 million in expenses. Much of the revenue increases were driven by developer contributions, sale of services, and investment returns.

Fort St. John received a little over $21 million in Fair Share monies, and collected $26.3 million in property taxes. It granted property tax exemptions to 31 non-profit groups, totaling little more than $540,000.

Transportation and protective services accounted for the majority of city spending last year at $25.7 million.

Some 77 public servants made more than $75,000 last year, and accounted for more than half of the city’s $16.2 million spending on salaries.

The city spent $8.8 million on employees earning more than $75,000, salaries that are required to be publicly reported. It spent about $7.4 million on employees earning less than $75,000.

Mayor and councillor salaries were $211,962.

Highlights from the report…

TOP 5 HIGHEST PAID PUBLIC SERVANTS

– Dianne Hunter, City Manager — $217,408.90

– Daniel Simpson, Fire Department — $202,351.16

– Brent Morgan, Fire Department — $195,730.62

– Ryan Tancock, Fire Department — $176,893.25

– Daniel Golob, Fire Department — $165,523.53

TOP 5 TAXPAYERS

– Louisiana-Pacific OSB Limited Partership — $1,407,071

– MT Investmnets Inc. — $639,574

– 243045 Alberta Ltd. (Chance’s casino) — $451,665

– NPR GP Inc. — $409,946

– Centeur Properties Ltd. (Totem Mall) — $393,249

DEPARTMENT STATS

$154,983,081 — Total value of construction in 2014

420,000 — litres of water recycled from the water treatment plant for use in street sweeping, watering planters, and flush trucks

10,000 — visitors logged on the Visitor Centre

1,790 — business licenses issued

1,175 — dog licenses issued

2,354 — traffic tickets issued

2,082 — building inspections conducted

1,110 — Fire Department incidents

556 — development permits issued

86 — notices issued under the Unsightly Premises bylaw