In an electronically broadcast council meeting on March 26, Huntsville Council passed a resolution to waive the 1.25 per cent penalty charge for those who are late with their first installment of the 2020 property tax—due March 31, 2020—until May 31, 2020.
According to a report by the Town’s manager of finance Julia McKenzie, “the impact to the Town should be minimal if penalty is not imposed on unpaid 2020 interim taxes after the tax due date for a two-month period ending May 31, 2020. The total amount of penalty on unpaid interim taxes from 2019 was approximately $30,000.”
Council was responding to criticism from property owners concerned that the municipality was not offering to defer payments at a time when many businesses have had to temporarily shut down by order of the Province in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means many are not currently working and while senior levels of government say help is on the way, the impact is being felt now.
At their last meeting, council reasoned that the hardship would be much worse when the second installment comes due at the end of August and said they would revisit the issue closer to that date, but many took to social media, and reached out to their councillors, to criticize council’s decision and asking it to reconsider its stance.
Today, council passed a motion that would provide a reprieve to the end of May for those unable to pay their property taxes on time. It also instructed senior staff to find cost-saving measures, determine what municipal services are essential, and lay off staff who are not providing those services at this time.
The District of Muskoka passed similar measures on March 25, 2020, for their portion of the property tax which is collected by local Muskoka municipalities. There will also not be late charges for payments due on water and sewer services, at least not until the end of May. Water and sewer services will not be disconnected and the District will work out a payment plan for those who need it.
Read the Town of Huntsville’s media release regarding property tax payments here.
The meeting, which was broadcast on the Town’s website and social media sites, started late as Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano received a call with respect to a second case of Hepatitis A in a food handler at Family Place Restaurant and Pizza, and the need for a vaccine. Following the first case, Terziano, Councillors Nancy Alcock and Bob Stone, and Huntsville CAO Denise Corry shared a photo on social media of them eating at the restaurant in support of the business, but as a result of news of a second case, it was recommended that they get vaccinated against the virus.
Stone said he’d already been vaccinated.
Huntsville councillors are scheduled to meet again on Monday, March 30 at 6 p.m. Their meeting will be broadcast once again. You can view it at this link.
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