Meeting rules could impact COVID-19 financial relief vote at city hall
LONDON, ONT -- Amidst the growing COVID-19 pandemic, city council will consider taking some of the mounting financial pressure off Londoners.
An emergent motion by Councillor Mo Salih’s will recommend city hall waive interest and penalties for late payment of upcoming property tax bills, water and sewer bills, and Community Improvement Plan loans.
“People’s bills are adding up and cheque’s aren’t coming in for everyone,” says Salih. “We need to step up as a council and this is a small thing we can do.”
- Interest and penalties for March 31, 2020 property tax instalments be waived for 30 days.
- Interest and penalties for water & wastewater bills be waived for 30 days.
- Defer all Community Improvement Plan loan repayments for 30 days.
In a statement Mayor Ed Holder promises more help is coming from the city.
"This is the first, but by no means the last initiative we will undertake to ensure those who are hurting as a result of this pandemic are provided with the appropriate resources and assistance," said Holder.
Civic administration would also have the power to extend the waiver period if the progression of COVID-19 continues.
Depending on how many Londoners choose to defer these payments, it could cost city hall over $100,000.
The motion will be presented at the still planned council meeting on Tuesday, March 24.
It will be seconded by Acting Mayor Jesse Helmer.
It’s uncertain if Mayor Ed Holder and Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan will participate in the council meeting remotely.
Both are self-isolating for 14 days after recent trips to the United States.
Salih intends to raise his motion at the next council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.
Salih, at this time, is missing two votes that would support his motion.
Holder’s self-isolation following a trip to the U.S. will prevent him from attending the meeting.
According to the Municipal Act only council members in attendance can vote.
Holder is asking the province to temporary permit voting remotely, “By virtue of the edict by the province that we do not want to have large groups participating in meetings.”
“Certainly I would like to participate,” adds Morgan.
Morgan says council could waive the procedural bylaw, allowing both Holder and himself to make comments in support of Salih’s motion, even if they can’t officially vote.
But he’d prefer the province green light remote voting for all municipalities, “We’re in a very extraordinary time. We have a 15-person council, but there are rural municipalities that have much smaller councils.”
Holder believes council will support the financial relief included in Salih’s motion, “If we aren’t able to vote, I’m still confident that council will look at this as not only prudent, but humane and pass it.”
Given city hall is now closed to the public, staff are still determining how council chambers will be set up for the March 24 meeting.