In an effort to provide support to residents and business owners as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the City of Revelstoke has changed the property tax due date from July 2 to Sept. 2 this year.
However, the date change will interrupt the city’s cash flow.
Tania McCabe, director of finance anticipates that the city will have to borrow as much as $6 million in order for the city to continue operating and pay the required tax levies to the CSRD, the regional hospital district and the Okanagan Regional Library. The province has delayed the due date for school taxes.
On April 16, the provincial government announced that municipalities will be allowed to borrow, interest-free, from their own capital reserves to cover costs, however, the city’s capital reserves are invested in long-term investments that are set to mature at different times over the next five years.
“We will be using those investments that come due this year to support the cash flow, however, there is not enough coming due this year, so we have to borrow to cover that shortfall,” McCabe said.
She anticipates paying $15,000 in interest.
“We get a higher percentage of interest on our investments than we do on what we are able to borrow the money at,” said Mayor Gary Sulz. “It is prudent for the community to see us borrow some of this money and keep our money invested so we’re going to be saving in the long run by actually borrowing the money versus cashing in these dividends.”
The city has also approved an amendment to the Alternative Tax Collection Scheme Bylaw, allowing property owners to defer their monthly installment payments for May, June, July and August. The September payment will be adjusted to make up for the deferrals.
Property owners wishing to defer payments must give a written notice to the city.
A third measure, adopted at Revelstoke City Council’s April 17 Special Council Meeting, to bring relief to property owners during the pandemic, was to waive the $35 NSF fee, which is charged when a payment doesn’t go through because of insufficient funds.
“It does create some administrative work, however, it is felt that we can handle that and this is just another option for helping the residents of the city,” McCabe said.
At the end of March, the city rescheduled utility bill due dates from April 30 to half due on July 31 and the other half Oct. 31.
Across the province municipalities are taking measures to survive the economic fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Nelson, city council committed to a zero per cent property tax increase. However, in Revelstoke, despite misgivings from councillors Cody Younker and Rob Elliott, property taxes will continue to be increased by six per cent this year, as was decided by city council earlier this year.
In Kelowna, the city is preparing to borrow $150 million in order to continue operations. Council also deferred the property tax deadline to the end of August.
In Salmon Arm, council voted on a zero per cent tax increase, extended the payment deadline and delayed a road construction project.
In Vernon, the city established a grant program, reducing property taxes by 2.1 per cent.
In Oliver, council defferred a four per cent water utility fee increase and eliminated a nine per cent property tax increase.