On a day like yesterday (Thursday, March 19), when so many Kawartha Lakes residents were dealing with being laid off or having reduced work hours; when business owners were frantically trying to figure out next steps as many of them were closing; when families were huddled together just trying to deal with the new emotional and financial reality of social distancing and all the worries that come with it, the City of Kawartha Lakes took time to make an important announcement about COVID-19.
And that announcement was clear and cold: Tax payments and utilities payments “must be received in our office on or before the due date.
“Late payments will be subject to penalty and interest charges. We do not accept the postmark as proof of the date of receipt.”
I mean in these unprecedented times, we don’t even get the benefit of a couple days postal grace. That’s hardcore.
Interestingly, on the same day, the City of Toronto put out an announcement on the same topic of bills and taxes. Toronto’s was a little different in tone, though.
That city announced a 60 day grace period for municipal bills as part of an accompanying letter from Toronto Mayor John Tory that outlines a series of steps on a comprehensive economic recovery from the COVID-19 situation. Our City? Pay your bills, no exceptions.
Like many people these days, I am spending a little more time reading traditional and social media. It was interesting to see the instant negative backlash to the city’s tone deaf announcement.
Now some of those people would have complained about a payment reminder in any case. But the online comments from our city residents were starkly different than those of Toronto.
They seemed angrier and I think for good reason.
It was interesting that on the very same day one city councillor still had time to like a hyper-partisan tweet criticizing our national response to the new crisis.
Clearly he didn’t get the memo: We don’t have time for partisan crap.
Our premier has recently said he likes the writing in the Toronto Star.
That’s perhaps a sign of the apocalypse, but no different than the leftists I follow online approving of Ford and some right-of-centre folks applauding the prime minister. We are living in suddenly different times.
And those times call for us to work together.
And for city council that means taking a look at relief for residents for their municipal bills. Your residents need your leadership.