Grand Forks halves tax increase amid COVID-19

Grand Forks halves tax increase amid COVID-19

Council also voted to delay implementing increases to utilities until the fall

While Grand Forks property tax payers won’t be getting a complete break for 2020, council resolved Monday to drop the municipal tax hike from four per cent to just two per cent for the year. Though council approved the hike in February, the city is backtracking, citing the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the time of [the Feb. 24 decision], the City, and for that matter, the world could not possibly realize how drastically the economy and overall priorities would change in such a short period of time,” an explanation in the April 6 city council agenda package reads. “The COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted world markets but has left its mark on local communities and businesses as well.”

Many businesses in Grand Forks and the Boundary have either closed or drastically restricted their operations and staff as a result of government-imposed regulations aimed at stemming the spread of the virus.

Based on the smaller increase, the city would receive $3,881,399 in tax revenue, approximately $15,000 less than brought in in 2019 (accounting for inflation).

At a February meeting, Grand Forks city council also approved a 3.5 per cent utility rate increase, but council is now delaying the implementation of the increase with the intent “to allow time for the economy to stabilize in the aftermath of the pandemic.” Should direct economic impacts from COVID-19 extend longer than anticipated, the city said it would re-evaluate the increase again.