Property tax payment assistance and other economic development initiatives and incentives are on the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting with Council considering resolutions that acknowledge the current realities faced by local businesses, property owners and the community as a whole amidst the continued pandemic.
On Monday during the regular City Council meeting, it is recommend that City Council give all three readings to a Tax Rate Bylaw enabling tax notices to be mailed out by May 10, which is 11 days earlier than normal. This decision would enable additional time for taxpayers to make payment arrangements or sign up for the Tax Instalment Plan (TIP) program.
“We are committed to working closely with our taxpayers on payment options and on a suite of initiatives and programs that will lead us forward in our response and recovery,” said City Manager Allan Seabrooke. “We know our community, citizens and businesses alike, are all impacted by the economic uncertainty stemming from this pandemic. It is our job as a municipality to be innovative and responsive in balancing the needs of all Red Deerians, and the proposed Tax Rate Bylaw, when married with the proposed economic and business focused initiatives on Monday’s agenda, will do just that.”
Several recommendations are submitted for review as a part of the Tax Rate Bylaw report to provide financial relief to tax payers. Some of which include a recommendation for a significant reduction in penalties applied to overdue accounts.
“This reduction in penalties would provide relief to both residential and non-residential taxpayers who are unable to pay the full amount of taxes owing,” continued Seabrooke. “The recommendation is to substantially reduce the penalty amount in 2021, and gradually increase this back over several years to allow for economic recovery. This would provide financial relief in 2021, 2022 and 2023 creating certainty for taxpayers.”
As well, the report includes the removal of the initial payment requirement to sign up for the Tax Installment Plan, initiated in 2020, and recommended to continue. This would ensure the entire tax balance owing could be spread over the remainder of the year to assist property owners in making payments.
“This change makes the plan accessible to more taxpayers because there is no lump sum payment required when joining part way through the taxation year. More than 56 per cent of our taxpayers make monthly payments,” said Seabrooke.
However, the focus on Monday’s Council items isn’t solely on residential property owners. The City of Red Deer knows businesses are struggling right now too.
“Unfortunately, business tax breaks aren’t always the answer when it comes to supporting local business. Right now, approximately 70 per cent of local business owners lease or rent space, which is why we are proposing other economic support initiatives focused on supporting and stimulating local business in Red Deer,” said Seabrooke.
In addition to the tax relief programs, on Monday, City Council will consider the following economic development initiatives and incentives as we continue to navigate the current economic challenges and begin to look to the future:
- Changes to servicing policies and charges to reduce development costs city-wide.
- Spur investment in underutilized sites with rebates to motivate the demolition of vacant and derelict properties city-wide.
- Fostering activity in the downtown in the following ways:
- a new residential and mixed use development grant
- new grant that potentially drives new residential unites in existing structures
- provide temporary two-hour free parking in 215 spots from June until December 2021
- Use City of Red Deer land holdings to motivate investment.
The City is connecting with local organizations and groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to better understand the needs of businesses who may be struggling as a result of the pandemic and the effects of the economic slowdown.
“Following several meetings with Mayor Veer and senior members of City administration to advocate for tax relief in support of businesses disproportionately affected by COVID and the weak economy, we're happy to see this suite of supports from The City,” said Rick More, Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce CEO. “Reducing the interest on outstanding property tax bills will provide the immediate short-term support needed to alleviate some financial strain businesses face as we work towards the lifting of restrictions. This is a demonstration of support for local business and we encourage those struggling with tax bills to reach out to The City for payment options. Our Chamber continues to work with all levels of government to ensure businesses have the supports required to survive COVID and make a strong recovery.”
“As a municipality, we play a leadership role in connecting citizens and businesses to federal and provincial resources,” said Seabrooke. “A wide variety of financial relief is available from the federal and provincial governments and new programs are announced regularly, but we hope to be able to add to that and provide additional relief to residents during this time.”
“The pandemic taught us how to respond quickly and do things differently,” said Seabrooke. “Many of our services can now be accessed remotely. We need to retain some of these learnings and continue the momentum on reducing red tape and modernizing to help our businesses and citizens be successful.”
For more information, please contact:
The City of Red Deer