The Finance Department was established by City Council on July 27, 1957 when it passed the recommendation of the newly formed Board of Administration (1956) that the following units would become part of a new Finance Department headed by the City Comptroller: City Comptroller's Office, Accounting, Addressograph and Multilith, Assessment, Internal Audit, License and Business Tax, Motor Vehicle Inspection, Personnel and Payroll, Property and Insurance [referred to as the Properties Division], Purchasing and Supply, Revenue Collection, Tabulating, and Treasurer (159-E-6 reel 1 file 1). Over the years the Finance Department and its decentralized predecessors (under the authority of the Finance Committee from 1887) have carried out an array of financial and non-financial functions, with competences fluctuating on a regular basis. The functions were/are: accounting, assessment, auditing, budgets, city owned property management, comptrolling, data processing/computer services, economic development, financial analysis, license inspection, motor vehicle inspection, personnel, purchasing, tax and fee collection, and risk and emergency management. Responsible bodies evolved as follows:
(1) Accounting. Carried out by the Treasurer from 1886, also by City Accountant from 1887 (payroll by Paymaster from 1910-1957, then by Personnel Division 1957-1965, then by Payroll officer in Accounting Division). The function of accounting entailed keeping detailed financial accounts on all moneys including investments, and preparing financial statements. Accounting Division established 1966.
(2) Assessment. Real property tax assessment was carried out by the Assessment Commissioner 1886-1975, when the function was transferred to the B.C. Assessment Authority.
(3) Auditing. Carried out by City Auditor 1886-1964, then by Internal Audit Division and "Internal Auditor" 1964-1996, when the Division was discontinued.
(4) Budgets. Budget preparation and administration originally under Accounting, joined with Research to form the Budgets and Research Department 1974-1976, then became a division in Finance. In more recent years involves reviewing operating and capital budgets of City's departments, and participating in budget review process.
(5) City owned property management. From incorporation the Assessment Commissioner was responsible for this function; in 1912 the Land Purchasing and Claims Department took it over. Names fluctuated: Land Sales Department (1932-1936), Lands and Rentals Department (1936-1956). By 1950 the variety of subfunctions included: land sales, rentals, building repairs, land subdivision, insurance, land purchasing, industrial development, lot clearing, and housing (mostly wartime housing). By 1957 the Lands and Rentals Department became the Properties and Insurance Division of the expanded and new Finance Department, with the City Comptroller as head. In 1978 it became the Properties Division of the Civic Buildings Department, and in early 1990 the Real Estate and Housing Division of the newly created Housing and Properties Department. In 1995 the various subfunctions were divided and placed under Corporate Services.
(6) Comptrolling. This function involves the general control and supervision of the City's financial affairs. The Treasurer, chief financial officer 1886-1912, initially administered the function. In 1912 the Comptroller, who had previously been responsible for the accounting function, replaced the Treasurer as department head (by-law no. 943). In the 1921 Vancouver Charter the Comptroller's powers were increased to include responsibility for investments and City properties. The 1953 Vancouver Charter named the Comptroller the City's Chief Financial Officer and became Council's advisor on financial matters. The position title changed to Director of Finance in 1965.
(7) Data Processing and Computer Services. Originally performed by the Tabulating Office established about 1948, the Finance Department became responsible with the Data Processing and Computer Services Division in 1966. From the beginning the function served many or all City units. Established as a separate unit parallel to Financial Services in 1995, and named Information Services. Renamed Information Technology in 1996.
(8) Economic Development. An Industrial Commissioner was first appointed by the Market and Industries Committee in 1914 (to approx. 1919) to plan for increased manufacturing activity, assist with industrial site arrangements, and to encourage business activity in Vancouver. The position was reestablished 1947-1959. In 1978 an Economic Development Office/Division was created to assist business and industry in its dealings with the City, to encourage retention and acquisition of business in Vancouver, to act as secretariat for the Vancouver Economic Advisory Commission, to manage the City's trade missions, and to advise the Director of Finance on zoning and development processes.
(9) Financial Analysis. Probably carried out by accounting in early years. The function was formalized as "research" in 1974 with the creation of the Budgets and Research Department (which became a division in Finance in 1976).
(10) License Inspection. Function originally assumed by Finance Committee in 1910 (taken over from Office of the Fire Warden and License Inspector). During the earlier period there was inspection of lodging and rooming houses (1914-1931), of trades licenses (1910-1937), and responsibility for the Fair Weight Officer (1929-1937). In 1937 the Standing Committee on Properties, Licenses and Claims took over licensing. In 1955 it was returned to the Finance Committee, under the License Division, until 1969, when the Permits and Licenses Department was established.
(11) Motor Vehicle Inspection. Administered briefly by Finance in 1967. Later carried out by Province.
(12) Personnel. This function previously with the Personnel Department of the Board of Administration until 1957, when City Comptroller's Department took over, by administering personnel services and payroll. Payroll remained with Finance while personnel went to the newly established Personnel Department in 1965.
(13) Purchasing. Assumed from the City Clerk in 1900 and retained since. Called Storekeeper (1900-1925) and Purchasing Office (1925-1966). The Purchasing Agent also managed the Central Stores operation at Manitoba Yards, and the Printshop in City Hall. The Fair Wages Officer was also attached to this Division.
(14) Real Estate Management. Administered by the Assessment Commissioner 1886-1912, by the City Comptroller 1912-1935, by the Land Sales and Rentals Office 1935-1956, by the Properties Division of the Finance Department 1956-1978, by the Properties Division of the Civic Buildings Department 1978-1989, and by the newly created Housing and Properties Department 1990-1995.
(15) Risk and Emergency Management. A Risk Management Program was established in 1987 to administer the City's new self-insurance program for liability claims. In 1992 the Office of Emergency Management, formerly a separate department, was joined with Risk Management to form the Risk and Emergency Management Division.
Predecessors of Corporate Services are: Financial Services, 1995-1998; Finance Department, 1957-1995 (which was also competent for the non-financial units of Computer Services, the Economic Development Division, and up to 1987, the Properties Division); and the various units functioning in the earlier decentralized years, which included the Office of the City Comptroller, Accounting, Addressograph and Multilith, Assessment, Internal Audit, License and Business Tax, Personnel and Payroll, Purchasing and Supply, Revenue Collection, Tabulating, and Treasurer (Council minutes, 27 June 1957).
(16) Tax and Fee Collection. Administered by the Tax Collection Department 1886-1966 (senior positions called at various times Collector of Taxes, Poll Tax Collector, Revenue Tax Collector, Special Collections Branch), when Finance's Revenue and Treasury Division took over the function (with the creation of the Property Tax Branch). Over the years additional fees have been collected for water service and garbage collection ("scavenging"), with further revenue coming from investments, by-law fines, tax delinquent property sales, and a variety of permits (building, dog licensing, etc.).
From 1886-1957 all financial officials, including the Assessment Commissioner, City Treasurer, City Comptroller, City Accountant, City Auditor, and the Land Sales and Rentals Supervisor, reported to City Council's standing committees, of which there were numerous configurations, the most stable the Finance Committee, which had been granted responsibility for financial decisions in 1887 with by-law no. 32. In 1956, with the establishment of the Board of Administration, all predecessor units reported to the Board, while in 1957 many of those units reported to the City Comptroller as part of the Finance Department, and he, in turn, reported to the Board. In 1974 the Office of the City Manager replaced the Board of Administration. As of 1995 the Director of Financial Services has been reporting to the General Manager of Corporate Services, who, in turn, reports to the City Manager.
The internal organization of the evolving organizational units has varied considerably. As an example, 1993 divisions (some of which contained numerous and large branches) were: Accounting Division, Internal Audit Division, External Audit Division, Budgets and Research Division, Computer Services Division, Economic Development Office, Purchasing Division, Revenue and Treasury Division, and the Risk and Emergency Management Division.
Name changes have been associated with changes in internal structure. In a general sense, however, what is now Corporate Services was previously Financial Services (1995-1998), the Finance Department (1957-1995), and before that the City Comptroller's Department (1945-1957). Before 1945, functional units were called: Office of the Assessment Commissioner (from 1886), Office of the City Accountant (from 1886), Office of the City Comptroller (from 1912), Office of the City Treasurer (from 1886), among others.
Chief officers since 1957 have included, as City Comptroller (the head of the Finance Department): W. G. Taylor, 1957-1964. The position was subsequently called Director of Finance: W. G. Taylor, 1964-1966; A. H. Parkinson, 1967-1972; P. D. Leckie, 1972-1987; Don Forss, 1988- 1989; Ken Stoke, 1990-1995; Hugh Creighton, 1995-1998. In 1998 the scope of the position was enlarged and its title changed to General Manager of Corporate Services: Estelle Lo, 1998- .
[Records series created by Corporate Services include records created by financial units of the City from 1886, and records of non-financial units which were linked to the City Comptroller's Department or the Finance Department. Included are records of the offices of the Assessment Commissioner, the City Accountant, the City Comptroller, the City Treasurer, the Economic Development Office, the False Creek Development Group, and the many additional divisions of the Finance Department.]