The District of Kitimat is looking at ways to reduce a proposed 3 per cent tax increase for 2020.
Mayor Phil Germuth told the Kitimat Northern Sentinel that council is sympathetic to the fact that COVID-19 will have an impact on both residents and businesses within the District. With this in mind, he said Council has asked staff to report back on ways they might be able to reduce the 3 per cent increase.
“Council will next review the proposed budget and the report on options to reduce the proposed 3 per cent tax increase during the April 14 Council meeting,” said Germuth. “Originally the budget was prepared with a 3 per cent increase across all tax classes.”
In an April 3 update to the District, Germuth also addressed a number concerns from residents about industry continuing to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate these concerns and are doing our best to alleviate the risks of COVID-19 in our community we remain in dialogue with local industry stakeholders, Northern Health and local health care representatives,” he said, adding that the District commends its industrial partners for the proactive measures they have already taken to protect their employees and the local community. “We will continue to encourage them to take all possible precautionary measures to keep our community and workers safe.”
Black Press Media previously reported that LNG Canada confirmed one of its Kitimat workers tested positive for the virus, with the company informing its own workers of the positive result on March 28.
Germuth also recommended people only get COVID-19 information from credible sites and official sources, noting a wide range of misinformation which has shown up on social media surrounding the virus.
He said currently the District is busy trying to respond to all the COVID-19-related questions they are getting, however they are receiving more inquiries than they can respond to. “Many of these inquiries are proving to be false rumours,” he said. “Starting and spreading rumours does not help anyone.”
Currently the District’s facilities are closed to the public, including things like playgrounds, campgrounds and the local off-leash dog park. Germuth says these facilities won’t be opened until it is “safe to do so”.
District employees are currently working from home when possible. “We will continue to actively assess work opportunities and situations in efforts to keep our employees safely engaged in meaningful work,” said Germuth. “We value our employees and we appreciate their patience as we navigate this change together.”
The District’s Emergency Operations centre was also recently set to Level 2, which Germuth said will help the District prepare for COVID-19’s effects on the community. “This means that the team responsible for managing emergeny situations in Kitimat is busy with planning and preparing for any potential impacts arising from the threat of COVID-19,” he said. “As part of this planning process we are forming subcommittees responsible for serving and protecting certain populations within our community.”
Those include a “Vulnerable Peoples Committee” as well as a “Economic Recovery Taskforce”.
Germuth also took the time to address residents’ concerns about the District’s current lack of recycling options. “This is a matter that we are looking into along with necessary stakeholders,” he said, adding that the District is hoping to be able to provide the community with an update in the next week.
For any members of the public who want to stay up-to-date on council’s actions, the District is no longer allowing public to attend council meetings however they are encouraging residents to view them online at kitimat.ca/en/municipal-hall/video-on-demand-2020.aspx, which hosts links to all of council’s meetings so far from 2020.
Anyone wishing to speak to council during their meetings — which will continue to be streamed — is being asked to contact the District prior to 4:30 p.m. the day of a council meeting to make arrangements.
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