In order to respond to the exceptional situation created by the COVID-19 crisis and to offer respite to citizens and traders, the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ) suggested in an announcement today, that its member municipalities to suspend the application of interest rates on overdue amounts on municipal tax accounts for the next payment period, until May 31, 2020 or on a date chosen by the municipality, depending on payment dates.
“We are looking at various options such as payment plans and lower interest rates,” said Pointe-Claire Mayor John Belvedere in a phone interview with the West Island Blog. “Most people have their taxes paid by the bank as part of their mortgage payments but we hope we will be back on track by June.”
Belvedere stressed that Pointe Claire’s Director of Finance is working remotely, which slows things down a little.
“The few who are on site are taking all the necessary precautions and sit five feet apart as we work hard to prepare for the worst while we hope for the best.”
Aware that the COVID-19 crisis could lead to payment difficulties for citizens as well as for businesses and businesses according to the terms provided by current municipal by-laws, the UMQ offers a solution that appears to be the most effective at present to respond to the crisis in Quebec.
“After analyzing different legal options, we suggest that municipalities give some respite to people who, due to exceptional circumstances, may not be able to pay their tax bill. We, therefore, encourage municipal councils to lower the interest rate required for unpaid taxes to 0%, for both residential and commercial properties, “said Ms. Suzanne Roy, interim president of the UMQ and mayor of Sainte-Julie.
Articles 481 of the Cities and Towns Act and 981 of the Quebec Municipal Code provide that municipalities may lower the interest rates for unpaid debts. This new rate at 0% would, therefore, be applicable on all accounts which are past due before the adoption of the resolution and would be maintained until the resolution is modified or revoked.
“The UMQ and the municipal sector will continue to monitor the situation very closely and will maintain close and constant contact with the Government of Quebec and the other partners concerned, in order to adapt to the directives which will be continuously reviewed and to propose the solutions best suited to the problems experienced by the population, “concluded Ms. Roy.