Sarnia council approves pandemic relief including tax deferral

Sarnia City Hall. (BlackburnNews file photo)

Sarnia council is providing temporary financial relief to residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the deferral of property tax payments.

Mayor Mike Bradley said councillors unanimously adopted the measures during a teleconferenced meeting Wednesday.

“I think that it’s really important for the public to know that all levels of government are working to try to find ways to ease the pain of what’s happening to our economy,” said Bradley. “It was only a week ago Thursday that I declared the emergency. City council has met and looked at a package that would defer property taxes being paid until the end of May and at that point, we can assess the situation.”

Mayor Bradley said there will be no penalty or interest charges on deferred property tax payments during the months of April and May. Both the interim and property tax payments that would normally have been due April 29 and May 28, 2020 have been deferred one month to May 28 and June 29, 2020 respectively.

Late payment fees on invoices or tax payments returned due to insufficient funds won’t be charged either.

“Originally people were talking about a two week period before things got back to normal. We now know that is not true and we also now know that it could be much longer. So, at the end of May we can assess the situation and the impact on how the city operates and on taxpayers, citizens and businesses.”

Relief measures adopted by city council Wednesday:

1. Waiver of the $40 NSF fee applied to anyone whose March Pre-Authorized Payment had returned.
2. Waiver of penalty and interest charges applied on late property tax payments until May 31, 2020.
3. Waiver of any late fees applied on utility costs (water and sewer only) until May 31, 2020.
4. Waiver of late fees applied on miscellaneous invoices until May 31, 2020.
5. Waiver of transit fares for the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
6. Property owners be provided with a deferral of one month for both the interim and property tax invoices that would normally have been due on April 29 or May 28, 2020. These dates have now been deferred to May 28 and June 29, 2020 respectively.