Nova Scotia

CBRM allows residents to defer property tax, water bills

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is offering people whose income is affected by COVID-19 the option of putting off property tax or water bill payments for 90 days to help ease some of the financial stress created by the state of emergency.

Mayor Cecil Clarke says it's recognition of financial hardships people face under the state of emergency

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is expected to receive the same amount of equalization funding from the province as last year, amounting to about $15 million. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton Regional Municipality is offering people whose income is affected by COVID-19 the option of putting off their property tax or water bill payments for 90 days.

CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke said it's one way the municipality can help ease some of the financial stress people are under during the provincial state of emergency.

"We're still encouraging people who can to pay, so that way they're current when they come through this, but there's a recognition that people are facing various hardships at a personal and household level," he said.

Clarke said the payments are not forgiven, just deferred. Council approved the measure at an emergency meeting held online on Friday.

He said it is not yet known what the move might cost CBRM, because some people are able to pay their bills.

Deferring revenue might create a cash flow problem for the municipality, Clarke said, but staff are talking to the province about deferring the municipality's mandatory costs to make up for it.

Cash flow relief

CBRM is required to collect taxes and forward more than $18 million annually for provincial education, housing and corrections.

"Anything that takes a burden off of cash flow in the short term is of benefit to us," Clarke said.

Over the longer term, CBRM holds regular discussions with the province to determine what other measures may be necessary to help the municipality provide public services without running into a budget deficit later this year, he said.

CBRM is still waiting for more information from the provincial and federal governments before setting operating and capital budgets for the new fiscal year, which starts April 1.

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About the Author

Tom Ayers

Reporter/Editor

Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years. He has spent the last 16 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at tom.ayers@cbc.ca.

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