Port Coquitlam slashes tax hike for COVID-19 relief

Residential property owners won't get a property tax hike this year on the average property and business and industry will get a slight tax cut

Port Coquitlam property owners and businesses struggling to pay bills during the COVID-19 pandemic will get some relief with the elimination of a planned tax hike for 2020.

Residents also won’t have to pay their property taxes until Sept. 2.

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These measures are being taken to help thousands of residents facing layoffs and hundreds of businesses, said the city’s mayor.

“The city is going to do what every single family or business is having to do right now, which is tighten their belts and decide what is critical and what is not,” said Brad West.

He’s heard from individuals and business owners who are facing tough times making ends meet during the pandemic.

And while for some businesses deferring taxes won’t be enough, they need rent relief, too, said West, adding he hopes federal and provincial governments can step in.

“It’s a huge concern,” he said, “We want our small businesses to survive and come out whole at the end of this.”

Under the new scenario for PoCo’s 2020 budget, the average property assessed at $735,185 won’t see any tax hike and they won’t have to pay their property taxes until Sept. 2, instead of July 1, while the March 31 deadline for utility fees has been extended to Sept. 2 as well.

Businesses will get a tax break, too: the average business will see a 0.59% decrease and light industry will see a 3.33% decrease in their tax bill.

The average business was already going to see a tax decrease from the city’s draft financial plan, and all businesses will benefit from the provincial government’s 50% reduction in school taxes for 2020.

Eliminating a planned 0.48% property tax hike won’t affect services, and even some new initiatives, such as hiring more bylaw officers will go ahead, West promised.

“It’s not a big hole we’re trying to climb out of and our ability to use our reserve funds and some of the savings the city has been able put aside has helped,” he said.

However, council will be putting forward a bylaw that will allow the city to borrow to maintain cash flow if extending the tax and utility fee deadline to Sept. 2 causes an issue.

“It’s not being executed unless it's required because we have our reserve fund,” West said, adding that borrowing if necessary is for managing “the city’s cash flow and making sure we can meet our obligations.”

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