Vernon businesses will no longer be eligible for a one-time grant program announced by the city on April 12, instead, council voted to use the available funds to further relieve residential property taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 12, the City of Vernon announced a one-time grant, which would reduce the amount of municipal property taxes payable in 2020 by more than $906,000, to ease the tax load on both residents and businesses in response to COVID-19. But, following several announcements of relief and support programs for businesses from both the federal and provincial government, council voted to apply the entire fund to residential taxpayers during the regular meeting April 27.
Coun. Brian Quiring recognized a gap between supports available for business and residential taxpayers.
He raised a motion to move the entirety of the grant, equivalent to 3.2 per cent of the 2020 municipal property tax portion of the tax notice, to residential taxpayers to offer additional relief where both levels of government have left a gap.
The grant is automatically applied to the municipal portion of every residential taxpayers’ tax notice.
“When I look at downtown and see how many stores are closed,” Quiring said. “I can’t help but think that all the staff are probably living on $2,000 a month.”
“Lots has been done for the business community and commercial landlords and there hasn’t been enough done for residents.”
Coun. Kari Gares asked if the grant is no longer available to businesses, what is the City of Vernon doing for the business community.
“If we take it away, we’re letting the province and federal government do the heavy lifting,” Gares said.
The motion was carried with councillors Gares and Scott Anderson opposed.
Coun. Dalvir Nahal was not present at the meeting.
The due date for 2020 property taxes are due July 2, 2020, with 10 per cent penalty applied to unpaid taxes as of Oct. 1, 2020. Council will continue with the approved 2020-24 Financial Plan to maintain city services.