The City of Kelowna has deferred the property tax penalty, among a slew of other financial practices, to a later date to help residents struggling financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report to council on Monday afternoon recommended deferrals and temporary suspension of charges for a number of city services.
“We are trying to provide flexibility to those residents and businesses that need to adjust due to the interruption in their incomes,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “By deferring interest and penalties to September for those who need it, we are doing everything in our power as a local government to provide some financial relief for residents through the spring and summer.”
The changes approved by council include:
- The 10 per cent penalty for late payment of property taxes is moved to Sept. 1, although those who can meet the current property tax due date of July 2 are urged to do so to maintain the city’s cash flow for essential services
- Property tax customers on monthly payment plans can request auto-withdrawals be put on hold starting April 7 until Aug. 31
- Waive interest rate charges on utility bills starting April 7 until Aug. 31, and customers on monthly payment plans can request a hold on auto-withdrawals during this same period.
- Interest charges on accounts receivable accounts (i.e. permits, licenses, rents) are waived as of April 7 until Aug. 31
- Collection agency efforts on outstanding accounts receivable customers as well as parking tickets are suspended between April 7 and Aug. 31
- Waive not sufficient fund fees between April 7 and Aug. 31
- Staff will bring to council a revenue anticipation borrowing bylaw that will allow the city to borrow short-term to assist with city cash flow to maintain essential services
“Unlike other levels of government, municipal governments cannot run a deficit, so we’re are doing what we can to give people a break, while still fulfilling our obligations to maintain services and comply with our legislated responsibilities,” said Basran.