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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John Council reviewed its 2020 annual report on Monday.

Before receiving the report as information, council opened up the chambers for the community to comment on the report. Only one resident participated in a conversation with council.

The report includes the 2021 goals and objectives, an update on 2020 goals and objectives, the 2020 audited financial statements, and a report on permissive property tax exemptions.

“2020 was a year none of us will forget anytime soon. It began with over 1,500 athletes, coaches and officials descending on Fort St. John for the 2020 BC Winter Games for four days in February,” said Mayor Lori Ackerman in the report.

“Only a few weeks later, the world changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. Once again, we came together as a community to support each other. ”

Chief Financial Officer David Joy’s presentation included a risk assessment of the City’s 2020 financial conditions. The Financial Indicators Program was developed by three parties in Nova Scotia.

“[The program] assesses the municipality’s risk and allows Fort St. John to accurately view our financial performance by providing an easy to understand snapshot of our strengths and areas where we may need to focus more attention,” reads the annual report.

The ‘report card’ was broken into three dimensions: revenue, budget, and debt and capital. Each of the 14 key indicators under the sections were ranked from low to high risk.

The majority of the indicators were ranked low with reliance on transfers (39.72%), 3-year change in tax base (-4.43%), and deficits in the last five years (2) being highlighted as high risk.

The overall assessment met the low-risk threshold due to 11 financial condition indicators remaining low.

The majority of revenue in 2020 came from government assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic ($34.34 million). Net municipal property taxes ($31.52 million) and sale of services ($11.67 million) were also major revenue sources.

The City’s spent the most money on protective services ($17.59 million), transportation ($16.67 million) and general government services ($9.62 million).

The City came out of 2020 with just under $18,000 deficit.

“There are many reasons, both favourable and unfavourable, as to how the City has arrived at this small deficit. The variance analysis was conducted by comparing 2020 actuals against the 2020 budget. No comparison was done against 2019 actuals due to the significant effect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the report.

Due to the pandemic, the city cancelled a proposed tax increase, increased garbage collection, waived utility bill late fees, and delayed the late payment penalty for property taxes.

“Council approved the Temporary Outdoor Patio and Retail program to support our restaurants, pubs and shops to expand their businesses outdoors to meet the Provincial Health Orders,” said Ackerman in the report.

“We formed the Mayor’s Standing Committee on Community Economic Recovery, focusing on the community’s recovery and resilience following the pandemic. With support from the Northern Development Initiative Trust, the committee provided 80 businesses and non-profits with COVID-19 Business Support Grants to offset some of the costs of new safety requirements and supplies. ”

The following five goals are a part of the City’s 5-year Strategic Plan approved by council in 2018:

The report also highlighted the City’s 2020 Professional Development Award from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators.

Viewed the full report below:

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