For the April 7th Council meeting, the City of Martensville did things a little differently. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings will take place electronically for the time being. For those that wish to listen in on the meeting, you can contact the City Clerk’s Office at 306-931-2166 to obtain call in information.
Mayor Kent Muench acknowledged this change and noted that this was the first time that a Council meeting was hosted virtually in the City of Martensville, and although the agenda looked familiar, it would be a very different experience.
All of the items listed on the short agenda were administrative, with the first item regarding the City’s annual bylaw to set and establish tax policy. For this year, the main change made was to the uniform mill rate. “Council approved a 1.9% tax increase to property taxes back when budget was approved and the 2020 mill rate is in line with this. Property owners will see that the mill rate increased from 5.29 in 2019 to 5.43 in 2020, for residential and agricultural properties. Commercial properties will see the increase in mill rate from 6.15 to 6.31,” Leah Bloomquist, City of Martensville Director of Corporate Services, explained. Bloomquist added that an example of the “impact of this increase is that for the average property owner with a property assessed at $270,000 – they will see an increase in their taxes of $37.74 or $3.15 per month.” An extension for property taxes was added, which now takes the deadline to October 30th, 2020.
The next item on the agenda was added due to numerous calls coming in from concerned residents that are feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the City of Martensville decided to evaluate their options that could help provide a level of relief to residents that may fall behind on payments this year. The bylaw amendment stated that penalties will not be applied on arrears of taxes or on current taxes until November 1st, 2020. “Suspending interest penalties was the first recommendation made and now approved by Council. November 1st was selected to align with the extended deadline for property taxes of October 30, 2020 and provides 7 months of no interest charges,” Bloomquist said.
In addition to this, Council also approved a bylaw amendment to the utility accounts. No interest charges will be applied to past due water & sewer accounts until November 1st. “We will also not cut off services to accounts that are overdue as this would cause further hardship to households during this pandemic,” added Bloomquist.
Because City Hall has been closed to the public and approximately half of the staff is now working from home, the City of Martensville was forced to delay an audit that was originally scheduled for March to mid-May. “When the province released information allowing municipalities to delay filing financial statements, this seemed like a good precaution to take as we don’t know yet if our audit will be delayed further, or if our auditors will have to complete remotely. We hope to stay on track and meet the September 1 filing deadline but this gives us some flexibility IF we need it.”
The City of Martensville will host their monthly Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, April 14th at 5pm.