It’s equivalent of a zero-per-cent tax hike for residents of Pitt Meadows this year.
Tuesday night, council voted in favour of offering a one-time grant program. It means instead of paying the 4.52-per-cent tax increase previously approved, owners of multiand single-family homes will be eligible to apply for a grant when paying their property taxes that covers that added cost, explained Mayor Bill Dingwall.
“In these unprecedented times, we recognize that many in our community are experiencing financial hardship due to the world-wide pandemic,” Dingwall said.
“This onetime grant is an important investment back into our community.”
City council voted unanimously in favour of the COVID-19 Financial Relief Grant, which will distribute about $1 million to residents in the community.
For those living in single-family homes they can expect a one-time grant of $150 and for those living in multi-family dwellings like condos and town homes they can expect to receive $100. The grant is expected to cover this year’s entire combined property and utility tax increase, explained Pitt Meadows’ chief administrative officer Mark Roberts.
Council voted for the grant as opposed to a tax reduction.
“If we reduced the tax, that compounds year after year after year,” said Dingwall, using an example of $1 million, which is what the grant program is expected to cost.
“After 10 years, you’re now $10 million short,” he said.
The grant program is set up to be a short-term relief program for what the city is anticipating to be a short-term issue, Roberts said.
And council is able to extend the grant program if needed. Roberts, along with city council and the city’s directors, have been discussing how to off-set the impact of this year’s property taxes for the past month.
Money for the COVID-19 Financial Relief Grant will come from the cancellation or reduction of capital projects, Roberts said.
“We made the difficult decisions with what we felt we could live without on a permanent basis,” he told council during the meeting.
One of the larger projects affected is the works yard renovation, that was approved two or three years ago.
“For me that’s an indication that it’s not needed as much as maybe we thought,” Roberts said.
“Even though the cancelled or postponed projects were initially deemed important to undertake, it was outweighed by the importance of providing the community with financial relief and to provide funding for the grant program,” he added.
Of course, residents will also have the option of waiving the grant if they are in a better financial position or if they simply want to support the city’s projects and programs, Dingwall said.