Under the auspices of the Municipal Government Act, County Council is empowered to set up schedules for reimbursement of expenses incurred by the elected officials in order to carry out their duties as elected officials. County policy establishes rates for per diem reimbursement, subsistence and expenses, for all elected officials. In this area of the budget costs for elections is also categorized.
Provincial legislation providing for the creation of Municipal bodies specifies certain duties and obligations requiring compliance to effect good government of the County. Costs, incurred as a result of this legislation and approved policy compliance, are accumulated here in support of political and legislative requirements. Major components include: liability insurance, legal and audit fees, Public Notice advertising and Sunny South News subscriptions.
Under the authority of the Municipal Government Act, the County has the ability to appoint a Chief Administrative Officer and other Officers and staff members as deemed necessary to provide for the efficient operation of the organization.
In the case of the County, the senior staff position is the County Manager, and from that the organization has provided for the hiring of various officials and staff in order to fulfil its mandate, and in this particular section of the budget presentation the services specifically allocated to Administration are detailed.
a) County Manager - this is the senior appointed staff position in the organization responsible for carrying out the directives of Council in accordance with established procedures and policies, as authorized by Council.
b) Director of Corporate Services - duties include administrative and financial services.
c) Executive Assistant - this is a senior secretarial position that provides secretarial services for the County Manager , Director of Corporate Services on matters that effect County Council, Council Planning, the Development Appeal Board, and any other Committees of Council or the Reeve as designated.
The prime function of County accounting personnel is to provide administration with concise and accurate reports from which management decisions are initiated. Accordingly, each supervisor monthly receives detailed reports summarizing all their financial transactions for the past month. Year-to-date Balance Sheets and Operating statements are also prepared.
Report balances are verified, adjustments made, and totals confirmed. Comparisons to budget are made and future projection calculations assist in early detection of impending surpluses or deficits. Accurate costing identifies to which activities dollars are being allocated. Annually, audited financial statements are prepared in compliance with the Municipal Government Act and in accordance with general accepted accounting principles. Annual Reports are produced for public distribution. GST and Fuel Rebate Claims are handled through this department; Accounts Receivable reconciliation are prepared for Annual Audit.
All computer network is handled through this service sector. Monitoring of cash flow and investing surplus cash is a critical aspect. Audited Lethbridge Regional Waste Management Services Commission, and Library Board statements are also prepared for the Province. Since 1997, accounting, administrative and payroll services are also provided to the Airport. Airport Financial Statements are required as stipulated in the Transfer Agreement.
Currently our Chart of Accounts has 830 accounts and each year over 14,000 transactions annually are posted to these accounts.
In compliance with Federal and Provincial Legislation, municipal employees receive their biweekly wages on a regular basis. Based on current employment contracts they receive an accounting of their various employee benefit packages. Reconciled payments to federal and provincial agencies are made on their behalf. Retirement consultation and advice is available to those in special need. 1600 cheques are electronically processed each year that encompasses 19 non-union personnel; 32 permanent unionized employees and 20 seasonal workers. 134 cheques are processed for Councillors and SDAB members who also are paid through this function. ROE’s, T4's, Receiver-General, CPP, UIC, Insurable Benefits and LAPP remittances are also handled. Year-end Payroll Reconciliation's are critical for Audit Purposes. Meeting deadlines to ensure employees are paid on time in addition to Receiver-General Tax Remittances are also crucial. Accuracy and timeliness are key attributes required in this position.
Accounts Receivable duties are handled at the Airport. Gravel sales to farmers; custom oiling and grading; road repairs caused by oil companies, and other custom work are examples of external billings. In conjunction with the Picture Butte Fire Department Employee, all County Fire calls are now invoiced by the County.
Accounts Payable / Administrative Support
Annually over 2,000 accounts payable cheques are issued by Lethbridge County. In addition 1,000 Self-Pay accounts payable transactions take place annually. For internal control purposes, the Accounts Payable Clerk ensures that no payments are made which have no receipt or verification of goods ordered and that the invoice price complies with the quote given on the purchase order. During 2000 over 4,300 invoices will have been approved for payment. Airport Accounts Payable are handled through this activity as well. If invoices require immediate payment to avoid penalties, rush cheques are typed manually to expedite the process. Larger requisitions or invoices are paid on a timely basis in order to maximize interest earned before the due date of payment.
Invoices are coded to the appropriate general ledger account thus contributing to the completion of each month's financial report. Year End Accounts Payable reconciliation's are critical for audit purposes.
In conjunction with the Public Works Shop Receptionist, this activity is directed towards the billing, collection and balancing of all utilities in the County. 280 accounts are billed for water, sewer, and waste disposal in the Hamlets of Shaughnessy, Monarch, Turin, Diamond City and Fairview. All receipt and adjustment posting is completed here. The McCain Waterline will add to this function in terms of invoices from the City for water usage and subsequent billings to the various users of this system.
Planning and Development
The primary function of this member of the Administrative team is to fulfil the requirements of Section 17 of the Municipal Government Act with respect to Planning and Development matters. Key responsibilities include receiving and deciding upon applications for all development within the municipality, receiving and making recommendations on rezoning issues and giving out day to day land use planning advice to citizens and developers.
The Senior Planner/Development Officer also provides planning advice and makes recommendations to County Council and the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, as required. The department maintains a Liason with the Oldman River Regional Services Commission contracted to process subvision applications and miscellaneous planning exercises.
This department is also responsible for non-planning related work such as preparing and administering contracts with the Animal Control Officer and with all of the tenants and maintenance contractors for the County Administration Building.
Municipal Secretary - this is a staff position in the organization responsible to provide back up secretarial services to the County Manager, and dedicated secretarial services to the Director of Municipal Services. Shares telephone and front counter duties and purchasing of office supplies for the Administration Department.
Reception / Front Counter
Reception and handling the front counter are the main activities of this position. The ability to handle these two duties with courtesy, diplomacy and tact in dealing with all customers is vital. Bank deposits, mail handling, collection of payments are typical responsibilities for this position. In compliance with good internal control, Accounts Payable cheques are verified for signing and then sorted, distributed and mailed within this service activity. Utility billing duties are shared with the Accounts Payable function. Payments are posted through the Cash Till to the various sub-ledgers and ultimately to the General Ledger.
This area is responsible for the preparation of all data pertaining to the assessment roll and the maintenance of assessment field sheet records. This budget includes funding for the ongoing General Assessment and is now an annual commitment that the general assessment be updated for taxation purposes. The Assessor is now responsible for negotiating Right-of-ways for Public Works Road Projects while the Assistant Assessor is performing the bookkeeping details for LRWMSC, in addition to their assessment duties.
Tax Roll Maintenance
Tax Roll - this service includes maintaining the integrity of the tax roll system by recording the legal, statistical, and assessment information on 7,500 parcels of land and improvements. Handles over 650 titles yearly for ownership and land description changes. Responds to public inquiries in person and over the telephone regarding taxes and land titles. Tax levy explanations and tax certificates are provided to authorized interested parties. School support declarations are issued and recorded.
Prior Year Tax Write-off
This expenditure is made for any previous tax levies that have no grounds for collection and are subsequently written off. The primary rites is that of the Federal Grant-in-Lieu. Federal Tax Assessors usually derive a different Tax Levy than the County Assessor, and the difference is written off the following year.
Added to Operating Allowance
In order to write-off prior year’s taxes, an allowance for doubtful Accounts Reserve must be held to draw revenues in the year of write-off. If no allocation is made, the tax write-off becomes an expense in Current Years Operations.
Grants to Individuals and Organizations
Annually, County Council provides Charitable and Tax Grants to various organizations such as the Lethbridge Handicapped Riding Association, Chinook Health Region and Employees’ Christmas party.
Expenses in this category include Contract Janitorial Services and Supplies, utilities and overall repair and maintenance costs pertaining to the Administration Building.
As the Administration Building Debenture was paid off in 1997, it was moved by Council to put the amount of Debenture payment into this Reserve to address future repairs and capital replacement to the building.
Services by Other Departments
Essentially entails work performed by Municipal Transportation for snow removal and sanding of County parking lot and grass cutting and yard maintenance by Agricultural Service Board (A.S.B.) staff.
This includes office furniture, telephone upgrade, and computer equipment to be funded through reserves.