County extends property tax deadlines due to COVID-19

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The Washington County Commission, St. George, Utah, April 7, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Community Education Channel, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Following the examples set by federal and state governments, the Washington County Commission passed a resolution Tuesday extending local property tax deadlines. It also put funds toward the Switchpoint Community Resource Center and the county’s small business resilience fund.

Observing the directives of health officials to keep gatherings to 10 people or less, the three-member County Commission met at the Washington County Administration Building with a handful of staff while others participated over Zoom.

“We’re using technology to do our meeting today,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said as the meeting began. “These are interesting times. We wish everybody the best.”

The commissioners were also seated 6 feet apart with Commissioner Dean Cox wearing a mask for the duration of the meeting.

The changes to the meeting were necessitated in order to observe social distancing directives from the state and national government to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Iverson said

As COVID-19 has impacted the nation in various ways, Cox noted Gov. Gary Herbert and other elected leaders have encouraged people to stay home and stay safe in the middle of the outbreak. Unfortunately, this has not come without economic consequences.

“It makes it difficult for a lot of people to accomplish things on the schedule they regularly would,” Cox said. “Many of these individuals are unable to work, and so there’s an economic hardship imposed as well.”

The entry to the Washington County Assessor’s Office, St. George, Utah, Aug 8, 2019 | Mori Kessler, St. George News

In response to this, the county introduced a resolution extending tax deadlines on certain tax penalties, fees and interest payments. The measure is similar to action taken by the state and IRS extending their own tax filing deadlines.

Personal and real property tax statements and penalties would have been due to the county assessor’s office by March 15 and are now waived until Aug. 17.

Those seeking the residential exception for their property taxes would usually file a statement by May 1, or pay a $50 administrative fee if submitted afterward. These items are being waived until Oct. 1.

The county is able to temporarily extend the tax deadlines under county code as the COVID-19 pandemic is seen as a “condition that qualifies … as an extraordinary and unanticipated circumstance occurring during the filing period” that disrupts someone’s ability to file those taxes.

The commission unanimously passed the resolution.

Another resolution was passed allowing arts groups that received RAP tax funds from the county to apply those funds originally meant for the current season to events to be held later on.

“A lot of our resolutions have been focused on the aftermath of what we’re currently experiencing with COVID-19,” Iverson said, adding that no arts events or performances of any sort are taking place for now. “It is necessary for us to give a little flexibility throughout the year so a show that may have been put in on the spring may be put on later.”

The Commission also approved $50,000 to go to the Friends of Switchpoint nonprofit group to be applied to services offered through the Switchpoint Community Resource Center for the homeless. Switchpoint is currently experiencing a lack of needed donations for its food pantry and volunteers due to the coronavirus.

Switchpoint is also unable to hold fundraisers as it usually would, Iverson said.

The county is also putting $500,000 toward the Greater Together Small Business Resilience Fund. The fund is the product of a public-private partnership between the county, cities and the private sector created to supply loans to small businesses in order to help them continue operating through the pandemic.

The business resilience fund is also a part of the Stay Greater campaign focused on garnering support for local businesses during this time.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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