City of Vernon offers grants, extension on property taxes

City offers tax relief

The City of Vernon is offering relief on tax payments as the COVID-19 pandemic grips the economy.

"The global COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to impact individuals, families, businesses and communities here and around the world. These impacts include changes to the physical, emotional, mental, social and financial well-being of many. And while these impacts may be felt individually, we are navigating them collectively," the city says in a press release.

On Wednesday, city council approved changes including:

  • A one-time grant program, to be available for all municipal tax payers, equivalent of 2.1% of the 2020 municipal property tax portion of the City of Vernon property tax notice.
  • The due date for 2020 City of Vernon property taxes has been extended to Sept. 1, with a 10% penalty for taxes paid after that.
  • Council will continue with its approved 2020-2024 financial plan to maintain City services.

“This is a very difficult time,” said Mayor Victor Cumming. “Our routines have been disrupted and aspects of our lives have shifted. For many, this has included a significant shift in finances, so Council has taken a very close look at what can be done at a municipal level to help our citizens and businesses financially, while also maintaining the operation of our core services and the health and safety of our community.”

Council reduced the amount of municipal property taxes payable in 2020 by more than $906,000, to ease the tax load on both residents and businesses. Funds for the grant program will come from the 2019 year end unexpended uncommitted balance. 

“We have already seen the provincial and federal governments announce significant grant, income replacement, tax deferment, and stimulus programs for individuals and businesses. However, to date, we have not yet seen any programs that offer aid to municipalities,” said Cumming. “Council has made these modest changes to provide some relief for local tax payers where we can.”

He continued, “This event is impacting everyone. Municipalities across Canada are experiencing dramatic reductions in revenue due to the pandemic, which could push many municipalities towards what would effectively be bankruptcy or insolvency. Therefore, we must be cautious about our decisions.”

The one-time grant will be automatically applied to tax notices.

However, if businesses would like to access the one-time grant, they are required to enter into a partnering agreement, as required by provincial statute. The agreement will require businesses to agree to enforce the COVID-19 guidelines of the provincial health officer and not engage in secondary selling of essential goods and supplies.

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