James Baker has been Lake Country’s mayor for the last 13 years. (Contributed)

District of Lake Country response to COVID-19: Mayor Baker

Mayor James Baker ensures the district is doing its part in supporting the citizens of its community

District of Lake Country mayor James Baker wrote a letter to the community on April 1, ensuring the district will be supporting its citizens during such difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Letter reads:

There is a lot of uncertainty right now and everyone is feeling the anxiety and stress. Council and staff want to ensure community members are staying informed and have the knowledge they need to get through these challenging times.

The District of Lake Country is doing its part in supporting the citizens of our community. A local government’s purpose includes providing good governance for its community, stewardship of public assets in the community, the continuity of essential services and fostering the social, environmental and economic well-being of its community.

The financial stress and economic challenges due to COVID-19 are causing people to ask if property taxes and utility payments can be deferred or possibly eliminated in 2020.

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Property taxes cover approximately 35% of the annual operating budget for municipal services including protective services, transportation infrastructure, parks and facilities, among others. Property tax dollars also go towards hospital and school services. Capital projects to maintain critical infrastructure such as water, sewer systems and roads are budgeted and planned for, followed by contracts signed, and scheduled based on the anticipated amounts generated through property taxes. Municipalities, by legislation of the Province of British Columbia, are unable to carry a deficit. Not collecting property taxes within a calendar year is not feasible when the District has a legal obligation to continue providing essential services for the community.

READ MORE: Lake Country athlete selected to participate in national training program

With the upcoming utility bill, Council will be considering ways to provide relief to water customers. Payment of water utility bills for the January to March consumption period are sent out in April and are normally due by the end of May. Council will be considering moving the due dates and waiving interest. This may give some immediate cash flow relief to water customers. Council will also consider adjusting the due date for property tax. Deferrals can provide short term financial relief so that you can focus on your essential needs now.

Despite the global pandemic that we are all facing trying to figure out what our new normal is, rest assured, Council and staff continue to work for the community and provide additional supports to lessen the economic impact to households, wherever possible. Staff are still able to provide District services through on-line and over the phone methods. Projects such as Bottom Wood Lake Road improvements, Beasley Playground Renewal and Okanagan Centre Road UV treatment plant continue to make good progress. All of which will be positive assets to our growing community.

To keep you updated on local government services as well as announcements about additional senior level government resources that may be helpful to you during this time are included on the District of Lake Country – COVID-19 Response Q&A page of our website at www.lakecountry.bc.ca/covid19.


James Baker

READ MORE: COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com
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