by Colin Smith
Property owners who want to start paying their municipal taxes in installments no longer need to have their tax account fully paid up to do so.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday Council gave the plan the go-ahead when it approved an amendment altering the Tax Installment Bylaw.
In an uncommon move, at the meeting Council gave first, second and third readings to the Special Provision (COVID-19 Pandemic) Tax Installment Bylaw Amendment. A unanimous vote following third reading brought the bylaw amendment into force.
The Administration recommended Council move ahead with this proposed measure because tax notices had already been sent out.
Inquiries from ratepayers about the installment plan had already been received before that.
“We’ve had ratepayers not able to pay up in order to get on to the installment plan,” said Corporate Services Director Shawna Jason.
“We feel taxpayers will take advantage of this and it will certainly help in time of financial need as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
More frequent payments in smaller amounts through an installment plan help to ensure that taxes are paid in full, which supports a stable municipal cash flow.
Outstanding tax accounts continue to be subject to non-payment penalties and other tax-recovery processes.
Taxpayers who miss two consecutive installment payments will be dropped from the program.
“This is all directly related to Council’s move try and support the community by putting measures in place that give all residential and non-residential ratepayers the ability to defer their taxes,” said Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne.
“At the end of the day, we still encourage all residents to pay their taxes in full, given our tax flow situation.”
Third reading of the amendment was moved by Councillor Stephen Dafoe.
Dafoe said he did not ordinarily like to have all three readings taking place in one meeting, but in this case, it was “absolutely obvious that we have to do it.”
“We passed a 2.6% increase,” he said. “I got my tax payment bill for our modest little 1970 bungalow and my tax payment—I’m on the plan where you pay monthly—has gone up $10. That’s $120 per year. That’s somebody’s Netflix, somebody’s Amazon Prime TV.”
A bylaw passed at the April 28 Council meeting extended the due date for payment of property taxes from June 30 to August 31.