Council to consider waiving property tax late fees, Cinquanti expects revenue drop

City residents who are unable to pay their upcoming quarterly city property taxes could get a break under a proposed resolution on Tuesday’s common council agenda. The proposal comes as New York and other states have ordered the closure of non-essential workplaces due to the spread of COVID-19, resulting in an unprecedented 10 million unemployment claims filed nationwide over the past two weeks according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Under the terms of the resolution, interest or penalties on city tax bills due by April 30 will be waived as long as payment is received before June 30.

“We’re not obligated, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Mayor Michael Cinquanti. “Our people are hurting. We need to recognize the fact that a lot of these people who pay property taxes have lost their jobs for the time being and don’t have cash flow coming in.”

However, Cinquanti urged those who can pay their taxes to do so, given he expects the city will experience a drop in revenue due to the ongoing situation.

“We just don’t know how this crisis is going to play out in terms of what it’s going to do to our collection on taxes,” he said. “We know it’s going to have an impact on sales tax.”

Cinquanti pointed out that the largest generator of sales tax in Montgomery County is the sale of gas, the price of which has plummeted in recent weeks due in part to decreased demand given state directives to “stay home” as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mayor recently extended the declaration of emergency for the city until April 14.

The city controller’s office recently announced that due to the closure of city hall to the public, tax payments will only be accepted via mail, online, or through the drop-box at city hall.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.