The District of Sicamous is giving taxpayers dealing with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 virus pandemic a break.
At a special council meeting held on April 16, the district’s council endorsed a number of recommendations from financial staff which make changes to how taxes and utility fees will be collected.
The due date for property taxes and the associated penalty for late payment is being pushed back from July 2 to Oct. 1. The 1 per cent penalty for metered billings is being waived until Oct. 1 and council also voted to defer the 10 per cent penalty on unpaid flat utility billing from July 2 to Oct. 1. Interest on outstanding sewer loans is also being waived from March 1 to Oct. 1.
The report from Sicamous’ Chief Financial Officer Kelly Bennett recommends encouraging taxpayers who are able to meet the original July 2 due date to pay by then.
Along with the tax and utility changes, council voted to create a business relief and economic stimulus fund using money that will go unspent as a result of closed recreation programs and events that won’t be occurring due to the pandemic.
Mayor Terry Rysz said the fund will be administered by the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce in close cooperation with the district’s chief financial officer. According to Bennett’s report the savings are anticipated to be $40,000 – $50,000.
Rysz said the details are still being ironed out but the funding would operate on a grant model with businesses able to apply. He said the local stimulus is primarily for businesses which have exhausted supports offered by higher levels of government. He added that businesses needing assistance as they are collecting documentation or awaiting funds for other grants would also be able to apply.
In an earlier address to district residents Rysz said an effort would be made to accelerate district projects including the replacement of the Solsqua Sicamous Bridge and the creation of the the community daycare. He said those projects are still moving forward.
Rysz said Sicamous is committed to remaining open to development and new building despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic being felt in Sicamous and around the world.