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One-third of Burnaby property owners didn't pay taxes by due date

The 10% late fee doesn't kick in until after Sept. 30 this year, though

Roughly 34% of Burnaby property owners did not pay their property taxes on time this year, more than double the 15% who didn’t pay their taxes on time in 2019, according to the city.

Property taxes were due by July 3, but just 66% of properties paid up by that time, according to city spokesperson Chris Bryan. But that remaining third of property owners still have some time before they’re hit with late penalties this year.

Due to the economic downturn that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, council voted earlier this year to cancel late fees on property taxes until Sept. 30, when a 10% penalty will be imposed.

Tax revenue is estimated at $291 million this year, less than half of the city’s total revenues of over $664 million, according to the 2020 financial plan.

Property taxes aren’t the only revenues that have taken a hit due to COVID-19.

According to a fiscal update covering Jan. 1 to May 24, the city is also shy about $2 million in income, largely from things like lost parking revenues and program fees lost due to facility closures. Those lost revenues contributed to a net “unfavourable” financial position by $3.1 million as of May 24.

“It is anticipated at this time that operating results will remain in a net unfavourable position of approximately $13.7M at year-end,” reads a staff report. “The forecasted unfavourable position is mainly attributable to the continued loss in parking revenues, program revenues from the partial reopening of facilities, and from higher than anticipated prior year assessment appeals for property taxes.”

Parks and recreation is seeing the greatest disparity in its fiscal position, with a nearly $22-million loss in revenue. Taken with a $9.5-million decrease in expenditures, the parks department is expected to be short $12.4 million by the end of the year.

With the reporting period accounting for Jan. 1 to May 24, the tax revenue shortfall has not yet been accounted for in the fiscal update.

Staff suggested the city may need to undergo a bylaw amendment to the financial plan to address the deficit.

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