Penticton city councillors discussed potential ways to offer businesses and residents financial relief amid COVID-19 Thursday, April 23 in a special virtual council meeting.
Among the motions brought forward was a relief on property taxes. After mulling over many options, council settled on nixing a previously approved 2.9 per cent hike on property taxes for 2020 and allowing a 60-day grace period on late fees.
Property taxes are still due on the July 31 deadline and the city encourages residents who can pay to do so. However, the city will not be charging late fees on taxes received from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Tax payments made after Oct. 1 will be subject to a 10 per cent penalty.
The lost revenue will come from what mayor John Vassilaki referred to as the city’s “rainy day” fund.
“We don’t just have a rainy day. We have a huge storm, and we somehow have to slow that storm down so people can catch up and survive,” said Vassilaki.
The elimination of the 2.9 per cent tax increase will cost the city an estimated $957,000.
Council also waived building permit fees for home renovations that cost under $100,000. Council cited the fact that many are now focusing on home improvement projects to fill time and the need to support construction workers and contractors as the reason for this decision.
In total, the city’s COVID-19 relief efforts are expected to result in a $1.5 million loss of revenue for the city.
As the meeting adjourned, councillors all expressed their gratitude to be in a position to assist the city’s businesses and residents.
“To pretend 2020 never happened would probably be a good thing,” said counc. Katie Robinson.