Municipal Finance

Upcoming Courses


Municipal Finance Fall 2018 Textbook Information Form

Course description

This course is required in the Certificate in Fire Service Administration
Prerequisite: None

This course examines the reasons for financial planning with particular application to the fire department budget. The budget cycle is examined and a brief introduction to public accounting is made. The course proceeds to examine sources of municipal revenue and the criteria to evaluate the effect of these sources on the community. The course ends with a more detailed presentation of municipal expenditures.

It is particularly directed to municipal staff members who are only vaguely aware of what is meant by the term “financial management.” In particular it will examine how the management is organized and carried out, where local governments obtain the necessary funds to carry out municipal activities, and what sort of financial considerations are involved in delivering the various local services that are the responsibility of this level of government.

The four units of this course will help you to start thinking about financial management in ways that you may not have thought about before. It may show you that this subject is much broader than merely accounting for dollars collected and spent.

Learning objectives

Unit One

This unit will examine the meaning of the words “financial management” and will look at the structure and environment of municipal financial affairs. In particular, it highlights the roles played by the public, elected officials, administrators and others in the financial management process. With the completion of this unit you will be able to:

  • understand a variety of financial management concepts;
  • identify the role of financial management in the organization; and
  • appreciate the role of municipal reform in shaping municipal finance.

Unit Two

Unit Two will introduce a number of financial management concepts and explain what each involves. Fund accounting, cash management, financial reporting, capital and operating budgets, program and zero-based budgeting, and a number of other processes are considered both as management techniques and as organizational processes. With the completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • understand the financial management process;
  • understand the relationship between recording information and using it for decision making; and 
  • identify the users of financial information and their needs.

Unit Three

Unit Three will review municipal revenue sources, including both tax and non-tax sources. A part of this unit will examine the economics of taxation or tax theory, particularly with respect to the property tax. With the completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • recognize the difference between assessment and taxation;
  • identify the strengths and weaknesses of the property tax;
  • identify the criteria of a “good” tax;
  • understand the tax and non-tax revenue sources for local government; and
  • understand the relationship between funding sources and priority setting.

Unit Four

Finally, in Unit Four, municipal expenditures will be considered and classification systems described. Expenditures will be discussed from the point of view of the objects of an expenditure versus the function or purpose of an expenditure. With the completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • identify municipal expenditure classification;
  • understand the services which local government provides;
  • understand the difference between a mandatory and an optional service;
  • identify the trends and forces which will help to shape municipal finance; and
  • appreciate the issues involved in deciding if the province or municipality should provide a service.