PR residents will pay a bit more in 2020

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Most Peace River ratepayers won’t see an increase in their tax bill this year despite an increase in tax rates.

Penalties have also been delayed until Oct. 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Town of Peace River passed the 2020 Tax Rate Bylaw at their April 27 meeting held via Zoom. They approved the Tax Penalty Bylaw at the same meeting.

Although the 2020 budget was already passed with about a $300,000 shortfall requiring a tax increase of about 3.4 per cent, the Town has since capped tax revenue needs to almost the same as in 2019.

Last year, the tax rate bylaw requisitioned $11,317,810 and in 2020 the bylaw is requisitioning $11,301,470 for a net decrease of $16,340. The Town found the cost savings through a financial review completed April 14.

The new tax bylaw includes a 2.7 per cent increase for single family homes and a 5.4 per cent increase in the non-residential rate, but assessment values have now dropped by about the same percentages, meaning most ratepayers will pay about the same as last year.

However, that will depend on individual property assessments.

“What has happened this year from an assessment perspective is our assessments for the town have gone down about 3.55 per cent. While that is a significant amount, a lot of it is driven through the economic conditions of the town experiencing before and during this pandemic,” says Greg Towne, director of Corporate Services & Economic Development.

Towne says commercial assessments are down almost 5 1/2 per cent compared to last year.

“A lot of commercial assessments are based on their revenue outlooks for the year, such as hotels for example, it’s based on occupancy, so there has been challenges there that are not necessarily town-specific but indicative of the overall economic picture for the province and nation as a whole.”

However there is an increase of about 5.4 per cent for North Peace Housing, which Towne says works out to about $12 on an average single family dwelling.

“That’s where the increase could be if someone is seeing an increase on their tax bill. It’s generally not town related, our revenue requirements are the same in 2020 as they were in 2019.”

The due date for municipal tax payments is not changing this year. Taxes are still due at the end of June, but the first penalty date for unpaid taxes won’t actually be until Oct. 1, the council decided.

Utility bill payments have already been deferred to help residents struggling financially during the pandemic, and staff have been directed not to cut off utility accounts in arrears for now.

Tax notices will be mailed to Peace River property owners by late May.

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