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Fees and Charges


Local governments use fees and charges as an alternative to property taxation for generating revenue. Typically, fees and charges are used for recovering the cost of services, or for using municipal property. For example, user fees are usually charged for sewer, water, and garbage collection. Charges are often required when applying for a building permit or a business license. In addition, fees and charges are common when using public transit, using recreation facilities and renting local government property.

Fees and charges can be a one-time amount or they can be varied according to different factors. For instance, a bus pass could be purchased that is good for one month, or a rider could choose to pay the fare each time they ride the bus. In addition, different amounts can be owing depending on the distance travelled.

The amount of a fee or charge is chosen to provide enough money to recover costs and ensure the service will continue in the future. Fees are generally applied on a user-pay basis so that those who benefit from the service, bear the cost of it. For instance, a property owner may be charged directly for the cost of fire personnel responding to a false alarm so that this cost does not have to be shared by all property owners. Local governments must make available to the public, on request, a report showing how a fee was determined.

In some special cases, fees and charges are restricted by legislation. One such charge is interest. The rate and method of interest calculation for money owing to a local government is typically set by the province through legislation or regulation. Such provincially set interest calculations include interest on refunds of tax overpayments and interest rate on taxes in arrears or delinquent taxes. A local government can only establish the method for calculating interest if the province has not done so.

Fees for the deposit or removal of soil are also legislatively restricted. To apply these fees, council must create a bylaw which does not become valid until it has received approval by the minister.

Most fees imposed by a local government that are unpaid form a lien on the land and its improvements and they can be collected as taxes and taxes in arrear.


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