SCARBOROUGH — On April 1, the Scarborough Town Council approved to waive penalty fees on unpaid property taxes until at least July 16.

The ruling affects interest rates, said Ruth Porter, the town’s finance director.

Scarborough will now charge 0 percent interest rate on property taxes unpaid as of March 16, a way to assist those struggling to pay property taxes because of complications with the current economy, said the councilors.

“I’m not sure this will be a significant benefit impact but every little bit counts, and hopefully the spirit of this measure is a reflection of a good start and other efforts that may follow as we try to find ways to help people who may be struggling in this crisis,” said Councilor Don Hamill.

Councilor John Cloutier echoed Hamill, saying, “This is a kind of drop-in-the-bucket, but it’s something we can do as a local municipality, other than directing you towards programs being sponsored by the local or federal government. If you’re seeking help, please feel free to reach out. I think we’ll do our best to route you to the right person.”

After discussion for an appropriate deadline for the end of the 0 percent penalty, Councilor Betsy Gleysteen proposed July 16.

“It gives us at least a date,” said Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina. “We can always extend it later. I want to see people helped during this time but I don’t want to see it open-ended.”

Council Chair Paul Johnson said he’d be willing to push the date back as well.

One resident, Marvin Gates of Blackpoint Road, thanked the council during the public comment section of the Zoom meeting.

“I did want to voice my appreciation for this,” he said. “I think we’ve paid our taxes, but it’s certainly nice for the council to think of everyone in town and those who might be afflicted by the Covid-19 crisis.”

Councilor Peter Hayes also showed support for the decision, saying that the end date might need to change later on in the year as much is still uncertain.

“This is really unprecedented times and there are lots of people without income at this time,” he said.

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