The Regional District of Nanaimo is the latest area government to extend payment deadlines for utility bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Like Nanaimo and Lantzville, RDN extends bill payment deadline

Move made to provide reprieve due to COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the adverse effect of the coronavirus on the economy, local governments in and around Nanaimo have extended deadlines for utility and property tax bill payments.

Regional District of Nanaimo was the latest authority to do so, approving a motion Tuesday to move water, sewer and garbage service payment due dates ahead three months to provide reprieve for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a staff report, the RDN bills some 17,000 customers in May, with the due date ordinarily July 6 and now Sept. 8. There are discounts for early payment, which the regional district said varies by service, but is commonly 10 per cent.

In terms of water and sewer service usage billing, the RDN projects no impact as it doesn’t believe the extension will motivate people to pay their bill earlier, the report said, citing people’s desire to hold on to their money as long as possible or the preference to use a one-time annual payment option.

RDN solid waste service is anticipated to see more people taking advantage of early-payment discount, with the regional district projecting the number of people paying early increasing to 95 per cent from 81 per cent. This would result in an estimated $66,000 less revenue for the year.

All utility bills issued by the District of Lantzville between Jan. 1 to June 30 will have no 10-per cent penalty applied for people who don’t pay within 30 days, according to Jamie Slater, district director of financial services. District council also passed a motion Monday that will see the penalty date for all property taxes extended to Oct. 1, with a five-per cent penalty being incurred on that date and another five-per cent penalty on Nov. 15.

On April 9, the City of Nanaimo announced it deferred utility bill payments 90 days for invoices issued after March 17, with a five-per cent discount continuation if the bill is paid within the 90 days. Nanaimo city council will determine the property tax rate at its May 4 meeting, according to Ian Thorpe, city councillor and RDN board chairperson, and like Lantzville, has extended the property tax penalty date to Oct. 1 with a five-per cent penalty on that day and another five-per cent incurred if taxes aren’t paid by Nov. 15.

The RDN also bills some 3,000 customers for water services in September, but whether that payment deadline is extended has not been determined yet, said the staff report.

RELATED: B.C. has 34 COVID-19 cases, two more in senior homes

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