Swift Current City Council has approved a three month grace period for the payment of city taxes which traditionally come due on June 30.
During a special video council meeting on Friday morning, council unanimously approved a three-month grace period be put into place to extend the due date for property taxes from June 30 to September 30. Individuals and businesses taking advantage of this grace period will not be subject to late payment charges.
Additionally, council also temporarily suspended the late payment charges on outstanding utility accounts until September 30.
“I just believe it’s the right thing to do given the situation,” Councillor George Bowditch said in response to the initiatives.
“I think in the current situation it’s the right choice to make,” Councillor Chris Martens added.
As a result of the impact of Covid-19 on city cash flow and delayed tax collection, Council approved a temporary $5 million increase to the city’s operating line of credit.
In a report presented to council, the impacts of Covid-19 have resulted in a forecast of cash inflow in both the areas of decreased revenue from recreational and cultural events and facilities, along with a decrease in funds from utility and property tax payments.
“Under average conditions the City would receive approximately $4.6 million per month in revenue. Over the next three months revenue collections are forecasted between $2.8 million and $3.4 million per month,” the report states.
With the city needing approximately $3.5 million in each of the next three months to maintain city essential services and cover fixed costs, there is a forecasted shortfall of up to $10.5 million. This forecast does not include any capital spending but does include debt repayment, payroll, utility costs and other essential costs.
In order to cover this shortfall council unanimously approved a temporary increase in their operating line of credit from $2 million to $7 million for up to one year.
“I think we need to support this in lieu of the fact that we do have many, many services that we need to continue to deliver to the citizens of Swift Current, including safe water and so on. So we have to do this to ensure that we have the cash flow to continue to deliver the services that our residents are needing and requiring during this time,” explained Councillor Pat Friesen.
Friday’s meeting was held via video conference and shared with the public on YouTube, as council was following the social distancing protocols in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. All seven members of City Council along with seven members from City Administration participated in the video conference. a total of 59 individuals live streamed the meeting.