Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said there has yet to be any direction on property-tax deferrals from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selena Robinson — a power that rests with the ministry and not the city.
“We want to do what’s right by the citizens of Kamloops, but again, we have a payroll to meet, like everybody else,” Christian said. “While it sounds good and council could be patted on the back for differing utility fees and deferring taxes, at the end of the day, we have 750 employees that rely on us paying them every two weeks.”
KTW asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs whether property-tax deferrals could be ordered to help homeowners.
The ministry’s response:
“COVID-19 is having significant impacts on all aspects of our lives and our economy and it is critical that we work with our partners across the province to tackle the immediate and long-term effects of this pandemic. B.C.’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan is an important first step to address the immediate needs of people who are worried about paying their bills and providing for food, medicine and other day-to-day needs during this unprecedented crisis. The action plan will support people in all B.C. communities, offering tax relief for businesses and new benefits for people who have lost income during the outbreak.
“As we take the next steps and build on the federal government’s economic plan to bring much-needed support to people, we are committed to listening to the emerging needs of local governments to deal with the pandemic and working closely with them.”
Christian said city staff are re-assessing the budget amidst COVID-19’s impacts and examining what non-essential projects can be deferred in the capital budget so as to alleviate the “financial crunch” the city is anticipating.
“There’s no sense starting a big project if you can’t finish,” Christian said, noting shipping is limited at the moment.