Erin council to consider extending grace period on interest for taxpayers in arrears

ERIN – Town council will discuss the possibility of extending the grace period into the second half of the year on interest and penalties for Erin taxpayers at its next meeting.

Councillor John Brennan introduced a notice of motion at the June 16 council meeting to amend the final tax bylaw and extend a grace period on penalties and fees on overdue accounts with the proviso that taxpayers in arrears would have to make a partial payment.

In an update to council on the township’s finances and cash flow, director of finance Ursula D’Angelo said most taxpayers paid their interim tax bill on May 29; 14 per cent did not, leaving an outstanding balance of $1.9 million in unpaid taxes.

But that’s only a 1% increase from the same period last year, she said, where 13% were in arrears and the unpaid balance was $1.7 million.

Still, D’Angelo forecasted $4.4 million in outstanding taxes by the end of the year.

“I expect (tax receipts) will get worse,” she said.

“The economy won’t bounce back quickly. I am being very cautious and conservative with these estimates.”

Brennan reasoned that since most people have paid, “those who haven’t are in worse condition. I’d like to consider extending the period of interest- and penalty-free if they can come up with half of what they owe.

“That way we give them a little more time and make it easier for them to pay their bill.”

D’Angelo said the tax administrator has been working with residents who call about their taxes and tries to help them work out a payment plan.

“We put them on a monthly plan and negotiate a minimum payment,” she said.

However, if no tax payments are made in three years, the municipality can begin the process for a tax sale – where a house is sold and taxes collected that way.

It’s a process that takes about a year, she said.

She also pointed out that approximately $300,000 is collected annually by the town in penalties and interest, “and if we reduce that, it will impact the tax rate.”

“People are asking why taxes are not pro-rated again. People are still not working,” said councillor Jamie Cheyne.

Later in the meeting, Cheyne introduced a notice of motion to install a permanent speed indicator sign on Trafalgar Road at the south entrance to Hillsburgh.

He suggested it would cost about $4,000 and could be paid for from the Let’s Get Hillsburgh Growing reserve fund. If passed in Erin, the motion would have to go to Wellington County roads department for approval as well.

And Mayor Allan Alls introduced a notice of motion to discuss the feasibility of disposing the town property at the corner of 9th Line and Kenneth Avenue in Erin and either selling it or making it a park.

The three notices of motion will be discussed at the July council meeting.