Council approves adjustments to 2020 budget

At the Tuesday, April 28 Council Meeting, administration presented Council with proposed adjustments to the approved 2020 operating budget and opportunities to defer, cancel and/or modify spending related to one-time operating and capital projects scheduled for 2020.

“Administration completed a comprehensive review of the 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets, as originally approved by Council on December 8, 2019, to identify permanent budget reductions that will impact both current 2020 budget and future budgets, along with potential deferral or cancellation of spending related to one-time operating projects and capital projects,” stated Jeremy Emann, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Fort Saskatchewan.

Council passed the motion to approve adjustments to the Approved 2020 Operating Budget by $261,445 as presented to keep the municipal tax rate increase to zero percent for 2020. Council also deferred, cancelled and/ or modified $974,296 in 2020 one time operating or capital projects. These measures are in addition to a reduction of the 2020 capital project plan by deferring $9,254,300 in capital projects that Council approved on April 8.

“Council is pleased with the work that went into finding reductions to the budget so we could keep the municipal portion of the tax increase at zero for residents and businesses,” commented Mayor Gale Katchur. “With the reductions being permanent, this helps the 2021 budget as well which is critical since we know we will still be feeling the financial impacts from COVID-19 next year,” the Mayor said.

Council also approved a motion allowing property tax payments to be made in installments over the last 6 months of the year. To provide additional relief to those property owners who may be unable to pay their property taxes in a single payment by June 30, as a result of the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Property owners will have the ability to pay their 2020 annual property taxes in 6 equal monthly payments commencing on July 15, 2020 through to December 15, 2020, without penalty.

The deadline for making an application to the revised monthly tax installment plan is June 30, 2020. The revised monthly tax instalment plan will continue in effect until December 2020 and will not apply to designated industrial property, machinery and equipment, and linear assessment.

This change is in addition to the measures approved on April 8th for property tax payment relief. City Council approved extending the penalty free period for late payments of municipal property taxes due June 30, 2020. The penalties associated with the late payment of property taxes normally applied on July 1, August 1, and September 1 will now be applied on October 1, 2020 at 3%. If still not paid by November 1, 2020 a 6% penalty will be applied. If taxes are unpaid as of December 1, 2020, a 9% penalty will be applied.

Tax payment can be made online through your bank, by credit card through the PaySimply portal on fortsask.ca/taxes, or by cheque in the City Hall night deposit box. Property owners currently on pre-authorized monthly tax installment plans are encouraged to maintain their payments to keep their tax accounts in good standing. Property owners wishing to pay their annual property taxes via pre-authorized monthly tax installments may do so at any time and are encouraged to call the City at 780-992-6228 or email finance@fortsask.ca for assistance.