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Kimberley Approves Five Year Financial Plan and Splits Tax Penalty

As the City of Kimberley looks for ways to assist residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic, City Council has voted in favour of splitting up its municipal tax penalties alongside adopting its Five Year Financial Plan, which will see a 0% tax increase in 2020.

The City’s new policy will cut the 10% fee on unpaid taxes for the year, and impose a 5% penalty on July 3rd and the remaining 5% on outstanding taxes after September 2nd.

“The whole idea behind the alternate dates for taxes is to allow those who have been the hardest hit by the pandemic to have some cash-flow considerations. The City of Kimberley has no flexibility with respect to penalties,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “That’s not something that all taxpayers are going to want, in fact, it’s a fairly small subset, and we’ll take advantage of that. We wanted to make sure that we were doing all we possibly could to help with cash flow in this really difficult time.”

However, McCormack added that the tax penalty deadlines are only for residential properties, as businesses already have tax deferral opportunities from the Provincial Government.

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In the City’s Five Year Financial Plan, Kimberley has to make comparatively few adjustments to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With respect to the capital and non-capital projects in the budget, they are pretty much unaffected. We’re moving ahead with all of those projects which means we are going to be able to keep all of our staff gainfully employed and ensure the contractors that were going to be relying on all of that work will also have employment for the summer,” said McCormick. “We’re pretty fortunate that our finance department has really looked after business from a financial accountability point of view over the last four or five years and has put us in a position of strength when it comes to this really difficult situation.”

To help facilitate the tax assistance for residents and continue its 2020 projects, Kimberley had to make some considerations in creating its budget.

“We took what was going to be a 2.2% inflationary increase in the budget and make the variable rate to increase taxes 0%. That was to do something the City actually had control over to help out taxpayers in the community,” explained McCormick. “Secondly, due to COVID-19, our recreation facilities were closed down early, which provided some operational savings, and we decided to pass those onto taxpayers this year as well.”

Mayor McCormick said that Kimberley residents have so far handled themselves well through the public health crisis, but the local economy will need to start up soon or risk putting many businesses in a tight spot.

“The community and our secondary homeowners and everybody else associated with the community has been awesome with respect to following the stay at home recommendations that we’ve gotten from the public health office, physical distancing when they are out, hygiene, and all of the other things that have been pounded into us seven or eight weeks,” said McCormick. “The challenge now, as we move into Phase 2, as defined by the B.C. government last week, is to start to open those doors in a way that is going to maintain the safety of the community, but also let in some of the economic benefits that are going to accrue to our local businesses. For a local business, particularly our retailers, if we don’t get that money flowing again in town, many of them are in a fairly desperate situation here, through the summer and into the fall.”

McCormick added that he is hopeful the City will have a reopening plan created by June 1st.

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