City officials in Cold Lake say a second-phase of some resources aimed at helping people out during the COVID-19 outbreak will continue into 2021.
At a Special Council Meeting held on January 18th, Cold Lake City Council voted to continue with several of the initiatives
The city says it understands that many residents and businesses are struggling due to COVID-19 and the associated restrictions to businesses. At a previous meeting, Council directed administration to prepare a range of initiatives and the Special Council Meeting was called to ensure they could be implemented in a timely fashion.
“Our heart goes out to those people whose businesses and careers – their dreams and livelihoods – have been put on hold due to the pandemic and the restrictions in place,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “Our council unanimously voted to assist the public with a range of initiatives we hope can provide not only a small measure of financial relief but also the knowledge that we are here to support our residents and businesses in these unprecedented times.”
Financial Assistance for Small Businesses
Council has passed a bylaw that will establish a fund to help offset some of the costs that businesses incurred to stay open under COVID-19 restrictions. The bylaw established a fund of $50,000 and eligible applications will be received on a first-come, first-served basis until March 31, 2021, or until the fund is depleted.
The grants will be available to businesses that have incurred additional costs to stay open or reopen under COVID-19 guidelines. Storefront businesses can apply for a $500 grant, while home-based businesses can apply for a $100 grant.
Eligible businesses must hold a valid 2021 business licence, be located within the city of Cold Lake, and have incurred costs up to the grant threshold. Eligible expenses include those related to the purchase of personal protective equipment, sanitization products, or modifying their spaces in accordance with the provincial or federal COVID-19 restrictions.
Expenditures under this grant program will be recoverable to the City of Cold Lake through the province’s Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST), a COVID-19-related provincial grant supporting municipalities.
An application process for this program will be established as soon as possible and advertised to the business community.
Utility Bill Deferrals
Council passed a measure that will suspend the 3.5 percent penalty on overdue utility bills for the months of February, March, and April of 2021. The City will continue to invoice residents and businesses during this time, but will not process penalties on balances from these three months and will not transfer accounts over 90 days in arrears to the property’s taxes during this time.
A similar framework was passed that waived penalties for April, May and June of 2020. This resulted in a total of $11,600 in penalties being waived.
For more information, residents can call City Hall at 780-594-4494 or email [email protected]
Tax Installment Payments Plan (TIPPs) Deferral
Council passed a bylaw that will allow property owners who make property tax payments in monthly installments under the TIPPs program to defer their payments for February, March, and April of 2021. It is important to note that the deferral does not constitute a waiver of the fees: The payments will be deferred for 90 days and then the amount of the deferral will be distributed over the remaining payments for 2021. Accounts and payments associated with them will be adjusted once the 2021 tax rate is set in May to ensure that the total tax bill is collected by December 31, 2021.
A similar deferral was in place for April, May, and June of 2020. The city says a total of 40 properties took advantage of the program, of which 57 percent were residential and 43 percent were non-residential.