Cornwall council defers municipal taxes for residents, businesses

Cornwall councillors meet on Friday, March 20, 2020 to pass a tax deferment plan to help city taxpayers. (YouTube/City of Cornwall via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – Both city homeowners and businesses are being given some breathing room on their municipal taxes as the region deals with the world coronavirus pandemic.

City council passed a tax deferment plan during its special meeting Friday afternoon.

It means the first two installments this year, due March 31 and April 30, are being moved to May 15 and June 15 respectively – interest-free. The final billings, due at the end of July and August, will not change.

Of the $75 million in taxes the corporation plans to collect this year, it would normally have brought in 26 per cent of that total by March 31 and 40 per cent by April 30.

Postponing the collection “may have an impact on the City’s investment income,” a staff report states, meaning that the reprieve for now may come at a cost down the road for ratepayers. With interest rates also lowered, CFO Tracey Bailey said the city stands to lose about $200,000 in interest income. That doesn’t include all the lost revenue due to city facilities being shut down by the Ontario state of emergency.

Coun. Justin Towndale wondered whether it was enough time for the deferral as it would “take time for things to return to normal.”

CAO Maureen Adams says the 45 day extension is “a little bit longer” than other municipalities that are deferring for 30 days.

People on 10 pre-authorized payments a year will need to contact the city to be removed from the original payment plan in order to take advantage of the deferment (email or call 613-930-2787 extension 2317).

Water and sewer bills are not covered under the deferment. But CAO Maureen Adams indicated they won’t be charging interest on late payments in the short term.

“This is beyond serious when it comes to businesses, small businesses,” Coun. Claude McIntosh said.

“I can assure you that the city is hyper-focused on what needs to be done to keep things going,” Mayor Bernadette Clement said.

More to come.