Questions that the Financial Information Return (FIR) may help address.
The FIR is the main data collection tool used by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to collect financial and statistical information on municipalities. The data required to complete the FIR each year reflects the most recently completed fiscal year.
The FIR may be a useful source of information to help your council make decisions. For example, council may be able to use the data to compare your municipality to other, similar municipalities who have made decisions about the same issues.
Council may request FIR data reports from municipal staff. Below is a list of sample questions that the FIR may help to answer. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list.
- How do your tax levels compare to other, similar municipalities? What are some of the factors your council considers when setting tax rates?
- Does the municipality have policies or practices in place to address the pressures from outstanding assessment appeals (e.g. tax stabilization reserves, reserves to help address changes or decreases in tax revenue)?
- Is the level of tax arrears in your municipality increasing or decreasing? What factors in your community have affected the level of tax arrears? How does your municipality compare to others?
- What funding sources does the municipality allocate to capital projects (own source revenues, user fees, debt, grants, etc.)?
- Is your municipality’s level of long-term debt increasing? How does its long-term debt level compare to other municipalities? Are debt servicing costs increasing or decreasing? Is this consistent with any debt management policy?
- How much does the municipality have in reserves? Are the reserves adequate? Does the municipality have a reserve policy? Does the municipality have a diverse set of reserves? Is this consistent with any asset management plan?
- How much does the municipality acquire from user fees? What municipal services does your municipality charge a user fee for? Does the current level of user fees help significantly with financing the particular service?
- What is the value of your tangible capital assets? How are the assets divided among municipal departments?
For additional support, refer to the multi-year FIRs by municipality at the links below.
Province of Ontario
A wide variety of government publications and resources, including the Ontario Building Code, provincial growth plans and Provincial Policy Statement (to name a few), are on the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.
The resources and websites below are provided for information only and are not created or controlled by the Province of Ontario.
Municipal services offices
We hope that this guide has provided you with an overview of the many duties and challenges you can expect to face. The guide is no substitute for legal or financial advice, of course, but you may want to keep it handy for use as a quick source of information. For more detailed information on any aspect of your duties, you may wish to consult the reference sources listed in this section, talk to municipal staff, contact a professional advisor, or call a municipal or planning advisor in the nearest Municipal Services Office (MSO) of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Central Municipal Services Office
Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Barrie, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Muskoka, Niagara, Orillia, Peel, Simcoe, Toronto, York).
Eastern Municipal Services Office
Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Belleville, Brockville, Cornwall, Dundas/ Glengarry, Frontenac, Gananoque, Haliburton, Hastings, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, Lennox & Addington, Northumberland, Ottawa, Pembroke, Peterborough, Prescott, Prescott-Russell, Prince Edward, Quinte West, Renfrew, Smith Falls and Stormont).
Western Municipal Services Office
Lower Tier, Upper Tier and Single Tier Municipalities (Brant, Brantford, Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Dufferin, Elgin, Essex, Grey, Guelph, Haldimand, Huron, Lambton, London, Middlesex, Norfolk, Oxford , Pelee, Perth, St. Mary’s, St. Thomas, Stratford, Waterloo, Wellington and Windsor).
Northern Municipal Services Office (Sudbury)
Districts (Algoma, Cochrane, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Sudbury and Timiskaming).
Northern Municipal Services Office (Thunder Bay)
Districts (Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay)
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