Cochrane property owners have been given an extra three months to pay their taxes without penalty.

Tax notices will be issued at the end of May, but penalties won't start to be applied until Sept. 30. The first penalty is typically applied after June 30. 

Last night, town council unanimously approved the administration's proposal to give ratepayers a little extra time in response to the financial downturn heightened by the COVID-19.

The move was widely applauded by council.

"Generally, we talk about revenue reserves as something to use for a rainy day. If there's ever going to be a rainy day, I think this is it," said Morgan Nagel in expressing support for the proposal.

"I think it recognizes the needs of our community," said Councillor Alex Reed. "It's not an approach that would fit every community, but I think it's perfect for ours,"

Katherine Van Keimpema, general manager of Corporate Services, outlined four options the town could consider while still complying with provincial regulations.

They believe an across-the-board deferral of penalties would not only be the fairest way, but the easiest to administer.

The downside is an estimated $145,00 reduction in penalty revenue.

Van Keimpema says the town will need a cash flow fund of about $3.2 million for the June residential education tax payment to the province unless the provincial government introduces changes.

The provincial government has deferred the collection of educational taxes from non-residential properties for six months but has not done so for residential properties.

While agreeing with the deferment, Councilor Patrick Wilson was anxious to discuss budget adjustments that would actually reduce costs for ratepayers.

Van Keimpema said that discussion can be held once a few outstanding pieces of information are available. She doesn't believe it will be in time for the next council meeting.

Mayor Jeff Genung encouraged those in a position to pay their taxes by the end of June, to do so.

"This is a way you can help your community without leaving your home. Just pay your taxes as if they were on time."