Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood signed an order late yesterday (March 19, 2020) extending payment deadlines for City utility, B & O tax, and lease payments, and waiving corresponding late penalties.
“We anticipate these changes – and other City actions and decisions to come in the days ahead – will be welcome relief for those affected,” Mayor Fleetwood said.
Mayor Fleetwood ordered the following relief measures take effect immediately to help ease financial pressure created by COVID-19 response:
Offering payment plans, waiving late payment penalties and suspending water shutoffs for approximately 27,000 utility customers, ensuring no customers face having their water and sewer services disrupted due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19.
Waiving rent for small businesses and nonprofits leasing City properties, including leased space in the downtown parking structure, at Boulevard Park, the Sportsplex, and other City properties. The waiver is for April and May rent. It applies to tenants whose ability to pay rent is negatively impacted by the reduced economic activity levels associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Allowing businesses that file quarterly to defer first and second quarter business and occupation (B&O) tax returns and payments until October 31, 2020.
Mayor Fleetwood emphasized that these measures are intended for those who need this help the most.
“We ask that those who can pay these bills on time continue do so and not get behind on payments,” he said.
Mayor Fleetwood said parking enforcement also has been suspended through at least April throughout Bellingham.
“We are hearing from many Bellingham residents with concerns about the economic stress already building as the result of COVID-19,” he said. “I am working closely with the Bellingham City Council and my departments in helping to solve our community’s challenges in these very trying times. We are actively implementing solutions as fast as we can to slow the spread of illness and lead our community in being better positioned for recovery.”