To help residents and businesses through the coronavirus crisis, Burlington City Council says it’s considering a temporary change to late payment charges to provide relief for those worrying about the upcoming April 21 property tax installment.
This temporary change, if passed, would mean that no penalty or interest charges will be incurred related to the April 21 installment for all property owners; and that no non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee will be charged by the city for any returned tax payments.
“We encourage taxpayers on a pre-authorized payment plan (10-month plan, due date plan and taxpayer defined plan) to continue on these payment plans where possible,” the city wrote in a news release.
“There are many tax payment options available to the public which do not require your physical presence. We encourage taxpayers to make payments where possible during these unique times.”
Payments can still be made directly through financial institutions (by internet, telephone banking or ATM), pre-authorized payment plans, regular mail or a physical dropbox (at the Locust Street entrance of City Hall) or third-party credit card processing companies
The city says property taxes are the most important revenue source for any municipality.
The city also says it applauds the province’s move to enact The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), providing job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures or to care for other relatives.
These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.
The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.
The city says its leadership team and mayor continue to engage daily with members of council, Halton Region, Joseph Brant Hospital, emergency services teams, Burlington Hydro, and partners in the provincial and federal government.
“We are committed to finding ways to continue essential council business. We are pleased that the Province of Ontario passed legislation today giving municipalities the ability to fully conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering us to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held. This ensures that we can make efficient decisions that are needed at a local level in a remote setting. These are the decisions that will keep our communities safe, functioning and informed during these challenging times,” the city said in a news release.
The city says the mayor has also reached out to the province to consider relief and flexibility on timelines related to planning and development deadlines including those related to statutory public meetings.
“I continue to be impressed by how our community is coming together to support one another and follow the advice of healthcare experts by staying and working from home whenever possible and employing social distancing. These continue to be difficult times and we are looking ahead to how we can best continue council and city business, keep essential services going, and support residents and businesses,” said Mayor Marianne Meed Ward in a statement.
“Waiving the April property tax payment interest penalty for late or missed payments is one way we can provide some financial relief. The Province’s work today to protect jobs is a great step to alleviating worry and help people follow the advice of healthcare professionals. Maintaining council’s ability to make decisions on important city business without the need for physical quorum is a top priority and the provincial government’s legislation today provides us with the flexibility we need to do so. While the amount of information is changing rapidly I encourage everyone to stay as informed as possible on our city channels and through trusted news sources. The more we each know, the better we can act responsibly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe.”