Mayor Ackerman outlines City Relief, Recovery and Resiliency Plan
April 22, 2020
The City of Fort St. John, as with all municipalities across Canada, is facing uncertainty about the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been actively modelling, preparing, adjusting and identifying opportunities to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the City of Fort St. John to moderate the financial impacts during these times. We also know our residents and businesses need our support, in addition to the various provincial and federal programs in place.
“Due to the commitment of Council and City staff to ensuring our financial sustainability over the past several years, we can appropriately respond and support our residents and businesses. Today, thanks to our Financial Policy Framework, which guides the financial decision-making process, improved budgeting process and solid financial situation, along with the recently announced provincial tools, I am recommending to Council additional measures to our relief, recovery and resiliency plan,” said Mayor Lori Ackerman.
1. Cancellation of the proposed 1.25% tax rate increase for 2020
We will borrow against our capital reserves, at zero percent interest, to provide temporary relief following the recent announcement from the Provincial Government.
2. Moving the late penalty date for all property taxes to October 1, 2020
In line with the Provincial Government, we will be moving the late payment date. While the tax deadline will remain as July 2, late penalty charges will not apply until October 1.
3. Creation of a Mayor’s Standing Committee on Economic Recovery and Resiliency
This committee will work on using innovative solutions to get all of our sectors back on their feet, including for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, using the revenue from Business Licenses.
Additionally, to further support our business, the City will waive lease payments from vendors that operate in our recreational facilities, while those facilities are temporarily closed. These measures, along with the reduction of the water rate increase, utilities billing late fee suspension, and increased garbage collection previously announced, combine for a total relief of $1.15 million or an approximate tax rate decrease of 4%.
In addition to these relief measures, it is important to prepare for the economic recovery. To that, Council is committed to continuing with our $68.4 million Capital Plan, which will provide significant funding into our community while improving the services our residents rely on. Capital projects are funded through the Peace River Agreement, user fees, and other grants, all of which are separate from property taxes. These projects will create an estimated 516 jobs, and pour $33.5 million of labour income into our community.
“Moving forward, as always, we will continue to provide our input to all levels government and to work with our colleagues and neighbours to share information and ensure our community, our province, our nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” continued Mayor Lori Ackerman.