Lethbridge residents and businesses will not see an increase in property taxes this year.

Following lengthy discussion and debate, City Council Monday (May 11) voted for no increase (0%) in taxes, on a one-time basis in 2020, to help people financially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The increase was supposed to be 1.82% which was previously approved as part of the current Capital Improvement Plan.

Mayor Chris Spearman says this deferral of taxes comes at a time when many people here need a break. “This isn’t about taxpayers and an average house value of $268,000. It is about businesses which pay 2.3 times the municipal tax rate as well. Those businesses are struggling. I think a zero percent increase, if there was a year to do it, this is the year.”

City administration will have to find $2.8 million in savings to make up for not having a property tax increase this year.

Councillor Joe Mauro was the only member of Council to vote against the motion. He wanted an assurance the 1.82% this year would not be tacked on to municipal tax bills in 2021, doubling next year’s increase to 3.64%.

Mayor Spearman though stressed Council had promised it would try and find a way to help residents and businesses defer taxes, not forgive taxes to paid. Spearman also said that through operational review efficiencies, he was hopeful that would not be the case for taxes next year.

All 2020 property tax notices will be mailed out at the end of May. Property owners that can pay all or part of their property taxes by June 30 are asked to do so.

nderstanding that some residents may not be able to pay all of their property taxes by June 30, City Council approved changes to the 2020 property tax penalty dates where penalties will not be applied to unpaid tax balances until October 1.

(With files from City of Lethbridge)