Campbell River city council will continue to not penalize people for late payments on their water and sewer bills and will continue to waive NSF charges for residents due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Council enacted the policy in late April last year to “provide the community with some temporary financial relief measures,” but those measures were only set in place through the end of 2020.
“At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic there were many uncertainties over the economic impact of stay at home orders and other measure being rapidly enacted by senior levels of government,” reads the report presented to council Jan. 25, recommending the reinstatement of the fees and charges. “In an effort to address these economic uncertainties, council waived NSF fees for returned payments made to the city and also waived any late payment penalties on metered water and sewer fees to provide some financial relief to those who may have been experiencing financial hardship.”
But the fact that number of NSFs and late utility payments that needed to be waived did not increase last year, the staff report said, indicating that the financial effects of the pandemic may not be so bad as to require these policies to continue.
“By reinstating charges and penalties, this not only encourages on time payments, but also acts as a reminder for individuals to be proactive in contacting the city of a change in their payment situation, which helps to reduce administrative time required to process late and non-sufficient fund payments,” the report reads.
Instead of reinstating the fees as recommended in the report, however, council decided to continue to waive them anyway.
“I think it’s premature,” says Coun. Ron Kerr. “I recognize the fact that it didn’t see a lot of use last year, but this is this year, and I don’t see things getting that much better.”
Council was unanimous in its decision.