To address the unprecedented circumstances in which our residents and business owners find themselves due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Council called a special meeting on March 31 to make decisions on local measures to support tax payers.
Property tax and utility bills penalty deferrals
Effective immediately, Council has directed Administration to defer penalty payments for municipal property taxes and utility bills until September 1, 2020. During that same period, no water services will be disconnected due to payments in arrears.
Residents and business owners are encouraged to continue paying their municipal bills if they are able, and to pass on any deferrals to tenants where possible.
In addition to these measures, and following an in-depth discussion with our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Council has also directed a workforce reduction affecting approximately 28 out of 101 positions, reflecting the fact that several municipal facilities are closed due to the pandemic with an unknown timeline for reopening.
More details on the proposed reductions and their financial impact will be discussed at the next Council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, April 7.
Council expresses its deep appreciation for all the difficult work done by Administration to date to get us to this point, and its appreciation for the whole of our municipal staff for their hard work and for the value they add, not only to the municipal organization, but to the community as a whole.
It is important to note that municipal staff who are currently working from home are doing so to comply with directives from the provincial and federal governments. They are doing their part to flatten the curve, in addition to providing key services to keep our community safe and well. From emergency management and planning to administrative and outreach services, everyone is working diligently to get us through this crisis.
We recognize the hardship and uncertainty staff are facing as we work through this COVID-19 crisis. We are somewhat comforted by the knowledge of the benefits and assistance made available by other orders of government and encourage early application by those who will be affected.
Additional cost saving measures
While Council appreciates the work done to date, we have directed our CAO to consider further reductions and other cost saving measures with the knowledge that such cuts will entail service reductions.
As an example of cost saving measures, Council and management will see a pay freeze; Council has cancelled the Hakone trip, attendance at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in June and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference in September. All non-essential travel for Council and staff has been cancelled. Wherever possible, 2020 capital projects have been cancelled or delayed.
As other cost saving measures are identified, they will be brought to Council for consideration.
These are indeed challenging times for our community, but our community is strong, committed and resilient; together we will get through this crisis.
- Jasper Municipal Council
Message from Mayor Ireland on COVID-19, April 2, 2020