Since the beginning of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Town of Sidney Council has been concerned about the financial impacts on the community. While the Provincial and Federal Governments have brought in a series of measures to assist residents, business, and non-profits, Council asked staff to bring forward options for eliminating the general municipal tax increase for the year, and options for further reducing the tax impact on businesses. The major non-profit organizations operating from buildings in Sidney currently have permissive tax exemptions and pay no property taxes. Over the course of three meetings, Council considered a series of options, and at the April 27th Council meeting amended the previously approved 2020 financial plan as follows:
- Reduced the previously-approved 1.79% general tax increase to zero for Residential and Commercial properties;
- Provided an additional 10% reduction in the municipal portion of taxes for Commercial and Light Industrial properties.
With the general tax increase reduced to zero, the municipal taxes for the average Residential property will be about the same as last year; however, there will be increases in taxes collected for other jurisdictions, such as Provincial School Tax. Commercial property owners will, on the average $980,000 assessed property value, see an overall decrease in their total property tax bill of $2,800, or 22.5% from last year; this reduction reflects both the 10% municipal decrease, as well as a significant cut to the School Taxes by the Provincial Government.
In addition to the tax reductions, Council, in combination with the Province, also delayed the penalty dates to be applied to unpaid taxes, effectively providing property owners with more time to pay their tax bill this year. The 5% penalty date for Residential properties shifts from July 3rd to August 1st, and the 5% penalty date for Commercial properties shifts from July 3rd to October 1st. A second 5% penalty date for both Residential and Commercial properties shifts to December 15th, 2020.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith states, “The Town is using some of the limited tools available at the municipal level to provide a degree of financial relief and flexibility to residents and businesses in an effort to help reduce the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Council has the option to consider other measures as the Town’s Recovery Plan continues to evolve.”
An explanation of the above property tax changes will be provided on the Residential and Commercial tax notices that are being sent out in late May.