Following is a transcript of the post made by Town of High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk April 24 as provided by the mayor:
Covid-19 Pandemic Update #7 – April 24, 2020
On behalf of High Prairie Town Council, I wanted to share an update on the COVID pandemic.
As of April 23, we had 22 total cases in the High Prairie region. Of these cases; 13 have recovered, we have seven active cases and unfortunately, we have had two deaths.
I want to thank everyone for helping to flatten the curve. As the duration of the pandemic grows and with the warm weather here, I know people want to get out and get back to normal. Now is not the time to relax, we all need to continue to adhere to personal hygiene and physical distancing guidelines. Please do not be the one that passes the virus along to our friends and loved ones. This is time for people to continue to sacrifice if we want to win the war against the virus.
From our town hall meeting on Monday, April 20 we heard that businesses and residents are facing financial hardships as a result of the COVID pandemic. I would like to remind people that there are provincial and federal government programs to help. Please go to the appropriate website for more information.
The Town is also developing programs to help the residents and businesses through this difficult time.
1. Previously, we announced the utility deferral plan that removes any late payment penalties and ensures people will not have utilities disconnected till June 30.
2. Last night, council also approved a Municipal Tax deferral plan. As you know, municipal tax notices go out in May and are normally payment is due by June 30. We have extended the payment due date to Sept. 30 with no penalty. This should help residents that have been unable to work due to the pandemic time to pay.
3. Council also reduced the penalty for late payment of taxes from 14% to 10% for any amounts not paid before September 30. Any amounts owing after Dec. 31 will be assessed a 14% penalty.
4. Working with administration we have reduced our budget by 5.6% which will result in lower taxes. We lowered the budget by:
a. Laid off 16 staff, mainly part-time staff from the pool and arenas.
b. Cut planned projects from the budget like a Corporate Review that will save us approximately $50,000.
c. Eliminated a cost of living allowance for our staff.
d. We have also reduced the funding for capital projects.
e. The percentage saved is more like 7.1% as we had planned for a 1.5 increase in 2020 due to the additional costs that have been downloaded to the municipalities by the provincial government, such as paying for policing and a reduction to the grant in place of taxes.
As you know the impact of the pandemic is constantly changing and I want to assure you our council is also committed to continuing to evaluate the impacts, are prepared to take other measures to help people while balancing the need to supply the services you need and expect.
Again, I want to thank the many people that keep our essential services operating during this difficult time. They are at the front lines and we all need to do our part in protecting them and ourselves.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.