In light of the recent switch to the Grey-Lockdown Zone for Simcoe-Muskoka, The Town of Bradford will be waiving all penalty and interest charges on property taxes and water/wastewater fees until Aug. 31, 2021.
In Tuesday night's meeting of BWG Council, councillors voted in support of the motion.
Coun. Peter Dykie said it has been challenging for businesses, services and facilities in town and that this was one piece of the puzzle that can help.
"Whatever we can do for our clubs, organizations, commercial landlords to work as a team to help people these days," he said. "Whatever we can do we have to do during these times."
Coun. Jonathan Scott asked about the late fees accrued last year after the deferral period and if there was a system in place to work with residents on payment.
Director of Finance Ian Goodfellow said there is no current program available from the latter part of 2020, with the exception for seniors on an application-based program with the government.
Coun. Scott suggested amending the motion to include the latter half of the 2020 year.
"We weren't in lockdown for the entire time but I don't think that would be an unreasonable thing to do," he said.
Coun. Mark Contois was in support of the motion but questioned the amendment suggested by Coun. Scott.
"I just want to make sure it's not going to get convoluted," he said.
Goodfellow said annually, the town budgeted $550,000 for the relief measures from taxes, and last year's actuals were $440,000. He did not have the utility numbers on hand.
"We didn't quite meet budget, that was largely due to the measures put in place by council last year due to deal with COVID," he said.
In order to make the change, the budget would need to be adjusted.
"If we make a change to 2020 now, that will reduce our surplus from 2020 which will increase our need for reserves in 2021," he said.
Coun. Raj Sandhu wanted to keep the motion as is.
"My take would be that we deal with this now, if there is a need we just ask the time to bring a report back and deal with that as a separate item," he said about those who would need relief from the 2020 bills.
"We should deal with this matter as is," he said.
"If we enact this tonight so that our residents have a bit of peace of mind that they won't be penalized if financial constraints won't let them pay their taxes or water bills on time," said Mayor Rob Keffer. "It's to let our residents know we are trying to help them if they are in financial difficulties."
Penalty and interest fees from the holiday program will be discussed at that time.