Coronavirus: London council’s motion to delay property tax penalties, interest extended

A proposed motion to waive interest and penalties for unpaid property tax instalments amid the coronavirus pandemic is now being extended.

The proposed motion, made public last week by Ward 3 Coun. Mohamed Salih, directed city staff to “take all necessary actions” to waive interest and penalties for unpaid property tax instalments and water and wastewater bills for 30 days.

It also called on staff to report back before June 30 with next steps on potentially extending the waiver period, if necessary.

A revised version of the motion going before council on Tuesday now proposes doubling that time period to 60 days. It now also directs staff to come back with possible options for further relief before June 30.

“We’re all coming to understand this is going to be a longer period than anticipated by most experts. Extending the financial relief in the short term gives us a little more time to work out a comprehensive package,” said Ward 7 Coun. Josh Morgan, who is seconding the emergent motion.

“I think the more significant debates will be around when it comes back when we see the options. It’s really in the medium and longer-term that Londoners will really start to feel the financial pressure. That’s the time we need to focus on,” Morgan said.

The motion would also see the deferral of Community Improvement Plan loan repayments on an interest-free basis.

Salih’s motion garnered the backing of Mayor Ed Holder, who lent his support in a release sent on Wednesday.

Morgan said at the city is not in a position to provide long-term financial relief, so any measures would be of short to medium-term in nature. He added the city is unable to have a spending deficit, unlike other levels of government.

“It will be up to the federal and provincial governments to provide longer-term solutions for Londoners.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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