Too late for property tax adjustment from Columbia Shuswap Regional District

Timing of provincial deadlines eliminate option for tax relief in response to COVID-19

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District will not be amending its budget for 2020 in response to COVID-19.

Charles Hamilton, chief administrative officer for the CSRD, explained the board of directors approved the regional district’s budget before March 31, as required by the Local Government Act.

“More significantly here, we have to have our annual requisition – basically what our rural tax levy is – we have to have that to the Surveyor of Taxes (Office) by April 10,” said Hamilton, adding this year it’s April 9.

Hamilton said he contacted the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to see if that deadline might be extended. The ministry replied on Monday, April 6, stating it would not.

“Their explanation was that they require that information so they can code all the taxes and issue the tax notices to rural residents,” said Hamilton.

Read more: COVID-19: Salmon Arm council makes tough decisions to address economic stress

Read more: Column: Helping one another through these challenging times

At a special meeting held Monday, April 6, Salmon Arm’s mayor and council hammered out details of the city’s COVID-19 Economic Response/Recovery Plan. Measures in the plan included no property tax increase in 2020 for all classes of property, an extension of the property tax deadline and a phased workforce reduction and hiring freeze.

The CSRD board held a special meeting on Aug. 2, at which a motion was passed supporting the temporary closure of the regional district building initiated on March 20. Two CSRD staff were also put on temporary layoff and it was determined posted job openings would not be filled and no summer students would be hired for work in 2020.

“Basically the tax rate will not be changed,” said Hamilton of the CSRD’s position. “That does not mean there aren’t opportunities for cost savings down the road. The thing there is that those cost savings would not be realized this year in terms of the tax bill…

“On the one hand, we have pressures to operate and insure our essential services are carried out. On the other hand, we certainly have to be mindful of the economic climate. So it’s really a matter of balancing those two.”

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