At a closed council meeting on April 7, The Town of Oliver approved changes that will give residents financial relief in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Town of Oliver Facebook)

At a closed council meeting on April 7, The Town of Oliver approved changes that will give residents financial relief in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Town of Oliver Facebook)

COVID-19: Town of Oliver gives residents tax breaks, 50 per cent off first quarter utility fees

Mayor encourages residents to invest money back into the community if possible

The Town of Oliver is making moves to provide residents with some financial relief in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an April 7 closed meeting, Oliver Town Council directed Town Staff to bring forward changes to the 2020 property tax budget and utility rates to support taxpayers and citizens facing financial hardship.

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The changes include deferring the four per cent water utility increase approved for 2020 and eliminating the nine per cent property tax increase approved for 2020.

Residents can also expect their utility bills to be significantly less in first quarter of 2020.

Council has approved using funds from reserve accounts to allow for a 50 per cent reduction for the first quarter utility bill.

“The new relief measures approved yesterday are in support of those hardest hit in our local community and recognizing many will be struggling to pay bills right now. Council feels the measures announced today strike good balance between the Town of Oliver’s responsibility to not run a deficit and meet our obligations to maintain essential services,” reads a news release from Town of Oliver mayor, Martin Johansen.

Johansen encouraged residents to be responsible and invest money back into the community if they are able to.

“In these difficult and uncertain times, Council also considers these measures an investment in our community,” said Johansen. “Shopping local is a great way to support independent businesses who are the backbone of our community’s economic sustainability.”

Town Staff will also enter into an Essential Services Mutual Aid Agreement with adjacent municipalities and the RDOS during the COVID-19 pandemic, as advised by Council.

”This agreement will serve to ensure continuity of essential services related to water, wastewater and solid waste infrastructure. By entering into this arrangement, any party who determines their own resources are insufficient, can request Mutual Aid from the others,” Johansen said.

Johansen concluded his news release by urging residents to stay home and to listen to the direction of Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry even as Easter long weekend approaches.

READ MORE: Town of Oliver receives award for annual financial report

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