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Paradise approves COVID-19 support for business sector

Town also approves increase in donations for community groups

Paradise Town Council has approved a number of measures to aid businesses during the uncertain economic waters of COVD-19.

“This has been an unprecedented time for our business community. Cash flow is expected to remain a great concern for all businesses, regardless of size, type of business,” noted Councillor Sterling Willis.

The first measure was a deferral of commercial taxes owing for the remainder of the fiscal year.

“Payment for the 2020 year may be made in 2021, with no interest accruing during the payment duration. Businesses wishing to avail of this would need to apply,” said Willis, further explaining that council would need to approve the application.

Earlier in the spring, in the midst of the pandemic, the Town voted to defer residential, commercial, and business taxes until June 30.

Willis noted that in 2020, the Town’s business tax accounted for $4.8 million in revenue, while commercial property tax accounted for $3.1 million.

He noted that as of date, 60 percent of businesses taxes for the year have already been collected.

Mayor Dan Bobbett said the deferred business tax would result in a ‘blended tax’ in 2021.

“It would be a blended tax for two years, so that businesses wouldn’t have to come up with that big payment all the one time,” he said. “It would allow for taxes for 2020 and 2021 to be blended.”

There was also support for those looking to build.

“To support residential and commercial construction, it is recommended that the Town decreases it’s infrastructure fee by $500,” said Willis.

That fee currently sits at $2,500.

Another recommendation was that the Town pay Chamber of Commerce membership fees for local businesses. Some $7,500 is available for this initiative. Willis said that expansion of the budget for that could be explored should the cap be reached.

Willis said the Town would support only one membership request per business.

 “These are some measures we have put in place to help our businesses get through this difficult and unprecedented time,” concluded Bobbett.

Council approved all the measures unanimously.

Later in the meeting, council also approved an increase in donation funds. Before, community groups could receive between $500 and $2,500 in funding depending on the number of members within the organization. Council approved a $500 increase to each donation amount assigned to a particular group size category. Council also vote to extend the deadline for applications until May 22 (it had previously been April 10).

“It is our community groups that often step up in our times of need,” said Councillor Deborah Quilty.

Some $20,000 is budgeted for the program.

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