Expansion of the Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
Over the past week, the Finance Services Department has heard from residents, business owners, and Members of Council regarding the proposed Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program. In response, the Finance Services Department will be expanding the proposed criteria to include businesses with an assessed property value of up to $7.5M that have been financially affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is over and above the measures proposed in the memo last week, which included all residential property owners and business property owners with an assessed property value of up to $2.5M.
The increased business assessed property value criteria will now cover 91% of all commercial properties in Ottawa, up from 76% at the $2.5M threshold. To qualify, an account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax installment. If approved, the deferral application will be available online and would extend the interim (March 19) and final (June 18) tax due dates to October 30, 2020. The motion will define the criteria of property owner eligibility. Corporate Accounts Receivable Invoices Revenue Services is extending an interest free 30-day grace period for all unpaid Corporate Accounts Receivable invoices issued before April 1, 2020 and a 30-day due date extension for all Corporate Accounts Receivable Invoices issued between April 1, 2020, and April 30, 2020.
The proposed Corporate Accounts Receivable invoice grace period will be brought to City Council at the March 25, 2020 meeting.
Water Utility Bill
Revenue Services is extending an interest free 30-day payment grace period for all unpaid water bills issued before April 1, 2020 and a 30-day due date extension, for all water bills issued between April 1, 2020 and October 30, 2020, providing residents with 47 days to pay their bill. Pre-authorized debit payments for water bills issued before April 1, 2020 will be withdrawn on the regular due date and pre-authorized debit payments for water bills issued between April 1, 2020 and October 30, 2020 will be withdrawn on the extended due date.
The proposed water utility bill grace period will be brought to City Council at the March 25, 2020 meeting.
Additionally, the City has extended the suspension of all water service disconnections until October 30, 2020. As approved by City Council through the 2020 Budget, the water rate will increase 5% in April 2020. This represents a $6 increase on an average bi-monthly bill of $138, or one penny per day for 60 days. The rate increase will be phased in on each bill, with fixed charges and consumption before April 1, having the old rates apply and fixed charges and consumption consumed after April 1, having the new rates apply. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the City has an established water utility bill deferral program to support low income seniors and low-income people with disabilities. More information on the program and how to apply can be found on ottawa.ca.