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EDITORIAL – Thanks, City of Kamloops, now how about a tax deferral?

(Image: Pixabay)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

GOVERNMENTS EVERYWHERE are doing all they can to keep us safe and whole, but what about City council?

The Kamloops council is taking every possible measure with social distancing but it’s lagging behind on financial relief. Other than suspending transit and parking fees, things are pretty much as usual on the tax front.

So what about doing something about this year’s property taxes? Deferring payments is being done across the country in all sorts of situations.

BC Hydro has implemented a customer assistance program under which consumers affected by COVID-19 may defer payments. Ontario Hydro offers flexible payments and financial assistance for those who need it.

Federal student loans payments have been deferred. There’s a rent deferral program. The six largest banks are offering a six-month mortgage-payment deferral. ICBC customers can defer monthly insurance payments.

The deadline for income taxes has been extended to June 1.

It all helps those who are taking a financial hit from the virus.

So why can’t the City extend the property tax deadline? The reason given by City Hall is that it’s up to the provincial government, not City council, but there’s not exactly a full-court press from mayor and council to make it happen.

Ontario and Alberta are way ahead of us on that score. The provincial governments there have taken the lead and City councils are jumping in to give their citizens a tax break, extending deadlines and forgoing late-payment penalties for taxes and utilities.
It didn’t happen all on its own — City councils pushed for it. B.C. already has a property-tax deferral program for seniors and the disabled; all it needs to do is provide the same option for those impacted by COVID-19.

Kamloops council should be pushing hard to make it happen.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7717 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

5 Comments on EDITORIAL – Thanks, City of Kamloops, now how about a tax deferral?

  1. 100% on board with John Noakes’ comment … NOTICE TO ELECTED CITY LEADERS AND ADMIN: As your employer, we insist that not only is there no property tax increase this year, but with City businesses crashing all over town and taxpayers out of work, a PROPERTY TAX DECREASE is much more in line given this once-in-a-lifetime crisis. We are tightening our belts and making do with no frills, as must you, and possibly not only for this year. Apologies to our local elected leaders, but you may have to wait a few years to “make your mark on the community” by spending our money.

  2. Jasmine Devick // March 31, 2020 at 8:02 AM // Reply

    Curious as to why you’re urging the City to take this position yet you’re mute on the TNRD. Where you live and are a Director.
    Why so critical of the City yet mute on the District?

    • Mel Rothenburger // March 31, 2020 at 8:35 AM // Reply

      Fair question. In order to avoid a conflict, I don’t write editorials for CFJC about TNRD decisions. However, I did support a cut in TNRD spending, which unfortunately was defeated. Important to note, though, that the TNRD’s tax requisition is virtually unchanged this year, with most communities/ areas seeing little or no increase and, in a couple of them including Electoral Area P, which I represent, a small decrease.

  3. As council regularly shows its great aptitude to give city’s budget regular increases they should convene and just as easily rescind the current one. Moreover, given the gravity of the situation, nothing but essential services should carry on. Anything under the category of “non essential” should be put on hold indefinitely. And I wonder when the city will be cleaned. It is a secondary health hazard with all that dust blowing around. And it is a primary aesthetic concern (and even a slight psychological one) to have the city looking spiffy hence welcoming.

  4. John Noakes // March 31, 2020 at 5:53 AM // Reply

    Maybe another month of this will soften their stance somewhat, Mel. One virtual council meeting should be all it takes.

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