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Council approves utility relief until September

An extra three months of utility relief is on the way for Airdrie residents after City council once again amended its Waterworks Bylaw because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a regular meeting June 15, council gave three unanimous readings to the amendment. According to Monica Labait, team lead for Utilities Management, the decision allows the City to extend penalty relief to residents and businesses until Sept. 30. The measure is meant to help local businesses and residents, given the current state of the economy due to the pandemic. 

“Administration is also looking to return the default payment timeframe back to the standard of 21 days after the due date," she said. "Water will not be turned off for overdue accounts but will be transferred to tax role at that time."

According to Labait, any penalties for balances transferred to the tax roll will not be charged until January 1, 2021.

She said the tax roll transfer change was requested to make sure funds are secured to the City in the event of a home sale.

"There are a number of home sales taking place at this time," she said. "This transfer-to-tax-roll in a timely fashion ensures the bad debt levels for utilities remains low while continuing to allow for a longer payment period for those customers who may be struggling financially.”

Council's decision to extend utility relief will likely lose the City roughly $108,000 in revenue, she added.

Council approved the amendment with no discussion or questions.

"I just want to thank the team for being creative again and providing opportunities to provide relief to our community, our residents and businesses," Mayor Peter Brown said. 

The decision is the latest in the City's efforts to ease the financial burdens of property owners hurting as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 20, council unanimously approved an amendment to the Tax Penalty Bylaw allowing payments to be deferred until October. Normally, they would need to be paid by the end of June. As per the amendment, property owners are able to cancel their monthly tax payments and rejoin the plan later in the year when they are financially able. 

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19