The decision on whether or not to extend a program that allows struggling homeowners to defer their property tax payments is itself being deferred.
The financial hardship property tax deferment program is being examined as part of this year's budget and the final say on its future will likely be given when the budget is tabled on March 2, said John Rustad, Liberal MLA for Nechako Lakes.
"I think the program was good for the situation that we had," said Rustad. "I think with any of those programs I think you have to look at the overall situation and how those things have changed as to whether or not those things should go ahead."
Rustad said the province received 1,131 applications across B.C. for the deferment program, designed to help homeowners hit by the economic crisis keep their properties. According to the City of Prince George, 20 homeowners applied for a deferment in this community but five were either denied or cancelled by the applicant.
Under the program, homeowners could defer payment and wouldn't have to pay back the total owed until they sold their house. They are charged interest, at prime, on the outstanding balance.
In ordinary circumstances, homeowners have three years to pay back taxes, plus interest, to a municipality or risk losing the property in a tax sale.
Rustad said, with the economy beginning to stabilize and with some uptick on parts of the province, different measures might be more appropriate.
"When I look at my riding, we still have a significant amount of people that are still on job share, mills are not running at full production, we're down shifts, so there still is a significant impact on forestry," said Rustad. "I'm anticipating that will change in 2010. I don't think we're going to see a robust market but I think we're going to see some stronger prices.
"So the type of emergency measures we have in place, I don't know if they're going to be necessary in the coming year. Having said that, I think we've got to continue to help families through this challenging time and consider all options and the best way to utilize our tax dollars."