The municipality has extended its deadline for property tax payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a special meeting of municipal council on April 17, council voted to extend the deadline for paying property taxes from July 3 to Sept. 4. Penalties for late payments will not take effect until Oct. 1.
“This will provide relief for those in the community that need additional time for property tax payments,” chief administrative officer Anthony Haddad said. “The district is also looking at the potential to extend this, given the changing provincial legislation.”
While the dates have changed, the property tax increase will remain the same, with a four per cent increase for Summerland taxpayers.
The tax increase had been announced in February, roughly a month before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in closures in Summerland and the rest of the province.
The reason for keeping the tax rate increase is that it would be more beneficial to the community in the long term, a news release from the municipality states.
While the four per cent tax increase remains, the municipality has made some changes to the 2020 budget.
Operating expenses have been cut by roughly $1.5 million to offset the revenue reductions expected this year.
“Many of the proposed initiatives provide Summerland residents the ability to defer payments, while at the same time deferring or eliminating penalties,” said mayor Toni Boot. “Although the district has gone to great lengths in reducing its general operating budget by $1.5 million, there still exists the requirement to maintain a certain level of essential and community services.”
Property taxes cover some but not all of the municipality’s costs. Other funding comes from sales of services and rentals, provincial government grants, grants in lieu of taxes, permits and fines and transfers from surplus and reserve funds.
Boot said in the past the municipality would receive money from rental of the Summerland Arena for hockey events, summer hockey schools, graduation and other events. This year, since the arena is closed, that revenue stream is not coming in.
While the later tax date has been approved, council is strongly encouraging those who are able to meet the July 3 deadline to do so, as a way of ensuring the stability of the community’s cash flows.
Boot said the municipality’s budget decisions are being made based on lengthy restrictions due to COVID-19.
“We’re planning ahead as much as we can,” she said.
She said past planning on the part of the municipality is helping the municipality to prepare until at least the end of this year.
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