Property tax payment assistance and other economic development initiatives and incentives are on the agenda for Monday’s city council meeting.
Council will consider resolutions that acknowledge the current realities faced by local businesses, property owners and the community as a whole amidst the continued pandemic.
It will be recommended that 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 would provide additional time for taxpayers to make payment arrangements, or sign up for the Tax Instalment Plan 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 were submitted for review as part of the tax rate bylaw report to provide financial relief to tax payers. Recommendations include 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. 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,” Seabrooke said.
The report also includes eliminating 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.”
The focus of Monday’s meeting will also include Red Deer businesses.
“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,” Seabrooke said.