Council passes bylaw to defer late property tax payment penalties

Payments now due by Sept. 30

Property owners are being given more time to pay taxes to the District of Houston this year without having a late payment penalty imposed.

Through a bylaw passed at the regular council meeting of May 19, the District is following a provincial government move to extend the due date deadline two months from July 31 to September 30.

The provincial extension covers major and light industry and business classifications and with the District following suit, its extension extends to remaining property classifications, primarily residential.

It means a 10 per cent penalty won’t be imposed as of Aug. 1 but will be imposed as of Oct. 1.

This is being done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recognizing that some property owners are being effected by the resulting economic downturn.

“While this will have financial implications for the District in the form of lost revenue from late payment penalties, there are good arguments from an equity and fairness perspective to extend the date on which late payment penalties will be applied,” a briefing note to council from chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck and finance director Yun Ke Ni indicated.

They estimated the late penalty deferral will have a negative revenue impact of approximately $10,000.

The bylaw does not extend the property tax due date as a provision of the provincial Community Charter, which governs local governments, states a portion of property taxes must be due on July 31.

The deferral period is for this year only and the bylaw expires Dec. 31.

And using a provincial order enacted through the provincial state of emergency which recognizes the limitations on public meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, council was able to put this bylaw into effect the same day it was given the required first, second and third readings on May 19.

Despite section 135 (3) [requirements for passing bylaws] of the Community Charter, a council may adopt a bylaw on the same day that a bylaw has been given third reading.

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