ROCKPORT — The Rockport Select Board and town manager met at 10 a.m., April 6, online and from their own homes, in executive session to consider delaying the imposition of interest on property and real estate tax payments that do not arrive by the April 16 deadline.
The Town of Rockport collects property and real estate taxes twice a year, in November and mid-April. That’s when Rockport property owners pay their tax bills. Once the deadline passes, the town begins assessing a 7 percent interest charge on the unpaid balance.
The April 6 vote was 5 to 0, according to Town Manager William Post, on the motion, “to authorize the tax collector to waive interest on real estate and personal property taxes for 30 days and authorize additional 30 day waivers as deemed appropriate by the Town Manager until July 15.”
According to Post, “this means that interest on taxes will start on May 16 instead of April 16 and can be waived until June 16 or July 16, as deemed appropriate by me.”
Select Board Chair Debra Hall said after the meeting that the town manager had fielded, “a number of requests from residents, which raised this issue and other towns are taking action to waive the imposition of interest.”
She said the Select Board had agreed that the town did not want to change the tax deadline, “as “town government needs sufficient cashflow.”
While tax deadlines remain the same, the waiving of interest gives those struggling some room for making payments, she said.
“The Board agreed that waiving it for 30 days is appropriate but authorized the town manager to make the decision with respect to the subsequent increments because he is the one who is best-positioned to know whether a subsequent waiver would adversely affect the town’s ability to pay its bills,” said Hall.
Post said: “This will certainly reduce the interest amounts that the town collects, but we still encourage all that can pay their taxes to do so. The effect on this year's budget is expected to be minimal. This allows those that are out of work extra time without being penalized with interest.”
The board entered executive session to discuss this municipal matter. Going behind closed doors, “was appropriate to discuss with the town’s outside counsel the board's authority and obligations with respect to a number of COVID 19-related issues, including this one,” said Hall.
The board remained in executive session for one hour. The members met via the online meeting platform Zoom.
Going forward, Town Manager Post said, “Hopefully next week we will be set up for livestreaming the Zoom meeting.”