Huntsville council held its first electronic meeting, addressing the Coronavirus Pandemic and how it’s affecting the community.

Earlier today, a live-streamed meeting took place where council discussed extending its property tax deadline following concerns from residents.

In a phone interview, Mayor Karin Terziano says they’ve decided to extend the due date for a two month period, ending on May 31.

“That’s consistent with what most of Muskoka is looking at and it’s consistent with the resolution that passed at the District meeting yesterday to accept only the proportional part of the payment that’s due at the end of the month,” the Mayor said.

In response to the Pandemic and the potential impact on the Interim Property Tax due date, the Treasurers of Muskoka met back on March 17 to discuss the property tax due date, the potential of changing the due date, waiving of penalties and how to accept payments in light of recent facility closures.

Terziano notes the District of Muskoka also waived any penalty fees pertaining to water and sewer bills.

“Generally, you get a notice with a penalty if you miss your payment date on water and sewer,” Terziano said. “That’s been extended for two months as well and no disconnections will happen due to lack of payment.”

The impact on Huntsville should be minimal if a penalty is not imposed on unpaid 2020 Interim taxes after the interim due date.

The total amount of penalty on unpaid interim taxes from 2019 was approximately $30,000.

During the meeting, council also looked at what changes can be made to ensure that businesses and services that are currently being provided are absolutely essential.

Chaffey Ward 2 Councillor Jonathan Wiebe feels there needs to be swift and strong decisions regarding this issue.

“This is going to be a marathon,” Wiebe said. “And I think we need to get ahead and get down to the bare essentials because it’s going to be a lot easier to build back up and recover if we make our cuts early.”

Councillor Tim Withey says they need to be fiscally responsible with every decision regarding what is needed to lessen the economic impact.

“As I said last week, we need to deal with the tax issue today,” Withey said. “My phone is ringing off the hook from clients who cannot make ends meet today. Not in August, today.”

Mayor Terziano also reiterated what’s been said on the provincial and federal stage that residents need to think in terms that they have the virus and could be spreading it.

“It’s way easier to stay home for 14 days or a month than it is to have our town completely riddled with COVID-19.”

Council will meet again electronically on Monday to further discuss what changes can be made to lessen the economic impact and aide in the recovery going forward.