Several tax breaks approved by council amid COVID-19 pandemic
LONDON, ONT -- Several tax breaks were approved by city council Tuesday, but it wasn’t as much as some councillors wanted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With local businesses bearing the brunt of the financial impacts of COVID-19 some council members pushed to reduce the new tax burden being added to commercial property taxes.
A primarily online debate saw London city council discuss distributing the 4.4% tax rate increase approved in the budget fairly across different property classes like residential, commercial and industrial.
“Sometimes perfect is the enemy of good and we need to find a reasonable compromise in the distribution of taxes through tax policy,” said Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
Ultimately council voted 8-7 to approve tax ratios that increase residential taxes just 2.5 per cent and commercial by 5.2 per cent.
“Talk about ratios until the cows come home, but the real problem is the overspending that was authorized by this council, in the realm of a huge tax hike to all classes, residential, business, you name it,” said Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen.
Council also directed the mayor contact the provincial government about resuming a planned reduction to education taxes payed by businesses. When the upload was paused in 2012 businesses in London were left paying the old, higher rate.
“I’m looking forward to a real healthy open discussion to see if we can have some positive impact on the education tax. The impact of that would be dramatic,” said Mayor Ed Holder.
Council also deferred payment of property tax bills by 60 days to provide more financial relief during the pandemic.
Next week council members will discuss ways to mitigate the financial impact COVID-19 is having on city hall’s budget.