For immediate release
Esquimalt, BC—Esquimalt residents will be receiving their property tax notices this week. The usual list of ways to pay is different this year, as is one important detail: the deadline.
Council reviewed options to provide some financial relief to ratepayers while balancing the financial requirements of the township. They voted to extend the penalty deadline to September 30, 2020 and for a 2 per cent tax increase.
“Council recognizes this is a challenging year for everyone,” said Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “Our decisions regarding taxes were made to minimize financial hardship as much as possible. Our aim is to maintain municipal services while ensuring that township finances are sustainable.”
Residents have several contactless ways of paying their taxes, including online or simply dropping a cheque in the mail. The Esquimalt Municipal Hall has been closed to the public for several weeks due to COVID-19. The hall will be partially open for tax payments only to assist those who have trouble with online banking or other forms of payment. Starting June 3, residents can pay in person on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., however cash and credit cards will not be accepted. Home owner grants can be applied for online and by mail as alternatives to applying in-person. The hall also has a 24-hour secure drop box that can be used for cheques and home owner grant applications.
Safety measures in place will include Plexi-glass barriers at the front counters and hand sanitizers available for staff and residents. Staff will be on hand to monitor the public’s entrance and exit to the building. Only two members of the public will be permitted to access the municipal hall at one time and will not have access to the elevators, washrooms, or other office areas. Residents are strongly encouraged to avoid the hall and pay online or through their bank and must not enter the building if they are unwell.
Another notable change is that new and renewed tax deferments are no longer done through municipalities and must be applied for online or through the B.C. government website.
Municipal property taxes account for approximately 42 per cent of the township’s revenue and provide a stable and consistent source of funding for many services. The township provides its own police, fire, recreation, and library services however these services are, in some instances, either cost-shared or provided on a volunteer basis by other municipalities. The township includes all utility costs in its property tax levies rather than issue separate bills to taxpayers.
As provincial health restrictions lift, the township is taking a measured approach to restart plans for all service areas. Staff are evaluating services like recreation programs on a case-by-case basis to ensure that all the needed safety protocols are in place.
Manager of Communications