Stittsville businesses say tax deferral plan ‘just not good enough’

The local business community in Stittsville is working hard to continue serving customers and struggling to put in place measures to control the spread of Coronavirus as it ramps up. Many have moved to online services and are offering take-out delivery of food, with others finding creative, resilient ways to get customers what they need during these unprecedented times.

Many levels of government have put in place financial measures to assist both businesses and residents of Ontario — one of those deemed helpful to Ottawa residents if the newly created Property Tax Hardship Deferral Plan by the City of Ottawa. The plan is available for both residents and businesses to defer their payment of taxes until October 30, 2020.

An intense Allan Ryan, President of the Stittsville Business Association, spoke with Stittsville Central about the situation here. He said “that there is no merit in the April 15 deferral date – that it will be months to overcome the losses that will take place”. “This deferral plan only places an additional bureaucratic hurdle in front of the business owner or Stittsville resident to endure during this extreme pandemic and the rising anxiety.”

The SBA proposed a deferral date of June 15 for all property taxpayers and had requested that Councillor Gower submit a motion to this effect at the March 25 city council meeting and had also suggested that the date could be reassessed on June 1.

Stittsville Central asked Councillor Gower about the tax deferral situation for businesses and residents. In response to our query, Councillor Gower shared, “The City is looking for a balance here. Providing an automatic deferral to everyone — without regard to need — reduces the city’s ability to help the residents and businesses who need it the most.”

The city it seems is in a tight financial situation that can be taken from Councillor Gower’s further comments – “The City is in a very difficult spot financially as well right now, and it relies on property taxes to keep critical operations running. Some people and businesses are hurting badly through this while others may not be under the same financial pressures, or have other measures available to mitigate the financial impact. This option for deferral gives property owners who are experiencing the most hardship a much-needed financial break.”

The 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Plan has been created for both residents and businesses who are experiencing a tough time to meet their property tax obligations. Businesses with an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million are eligible. This figure represents 91% of commercial properties according to the City. The new program extends both the interim March deadline and the final June 18 property tax deadline to Friday, October 30, 2020. You must apply by July 31, 2020.

Allan Ryan says ‘this isn’t good enough’, “how can you put in a process like this with approvals to go through and the lack of City front-end workers in place and who are working from home?” “Stittsville businesses are struggling in the best of times and he cited one business that has 95% of it’s revenue lost because of the current circumstances.” “A blanket deferral date with no application process should have been considered…it provides breathing room for everyone…the level of stress is quickly rising…why weigh down the taxpayer with another hurdle when something easier could be put in place .”

Ryan vigorously stated, “the City has placed itself in a position of tight finances due to the drain of major transportation projects, mainly the LRT, and this pandemic has shown how the City’s financial situation truly is in a disappointing position.” When this pandemic is over, Ryan and the SBA’s hope is that all levels of government look at such continued capital expenditures and past financial commitments very seriously — based on their merit, past success rate and fiscal worthiness.

In a response to Councillor Gower, Ryan speaking on behalf of the SBA, wrote in an email, “…let me just say that your comment “some people and business are hurting badly while others may not be under the same financial pressures” is not a view that I or the SBA would share. Our feedback and my own instincts would illustrate a very different picture for the overwhelming number of business owners, farmers and for the massive number employees laid off to date, with little to no real financial support for some time to come from the Federal government.”

Ryan ended our interview with, “I and my business colleagues are extremely disappointed – there is more to be done and could be done. The lack of direction from the City to the local residents and businesses is detrimental. The SBA is disappointed for the Stittsville residents and our business community.”

This Editor asks – how will these payment deferrals affect the credit rating of a resident or business?


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