Individuals who struggle to pay their taxes next year may be eligible for support from the city.
At the end of Wednesday’s budget talks, deputy mayor Tanya Vrebosch and CFO Margaret Karpenko outlined their proposal for a hardship program to assist people who can’t keep up with increases to their municipal taxes.
The proposed plan would see the city enter a grant agreement with the Low Income People Involvement of Nipissing (LIPI) who will run the program.
The hardship program would only be eligible for those in tax arrears who are able to demonstrate financial hardship. Applicants would also have to prove that with the support, they would otherwise be able to keep up on their taxes. Proof of residency and ownership will also be required.
Applicants could be eligible to receive between $1,000 and $1,700 in assistance, based on the city’s median amount of unpaid taxes.
Karpenko suggested that $300,000 be provided to LIPI to run the grant program, with the organization taking 10 percent to cover administrative costs.
Multiple councillors voiced their support for the program, with Mark King saying “This is the best possible thing that could happen,” for homeowners experiencing financial troubles.
Councillors Chris Mayne and George Maroosis also voiced their support for the program, wondering if it could eventually be extended to the commercial sector.
The decision for council will now be whether to make the program available exclusively for the pandemic or to extend it to future years. The $300,000 to fund the program would come from the city’s reserve funds in 2021.
The final details of the hardship program should be finalized in the new year.