State Rep. Jon Hardister is co-sponsor of a bill that would provide some property tax relief for businesses struggling because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Hardister said that he got involved with the legislation after talking to the management of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, who are faced with paying the property taxes on First National Bank Field even though they were unable to play any games last year.

According to Hardister, counties already have the authority to work out a payment plan with delinquent property taxpayers, but the county is required by law to charge interest on the amount owed.  The bill currently in the state House would eliminate that interest and give property owners that meet the qualifications until Dec. 31 of 2021 to pay the 2020 property taxes.  To qualify a property owner has to be able to prove a loss in gross revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions of more than 25 percent.

The bill would also allow property owners to apply to have their property reevaluated, if they believe the value under the current conditions is overstated.

It would be interesting to see what value would be placed on a baseball stadium that can’t be used or can only be used at a fraction of its capacity.

Hardister said, “Local governments have concerns because they want to get their property taxes.  There will be some pushback.  In fact there already has been.  But I think it’s the right thing to do.”

When asked about reducing taxes that go to the state rather than property taxes that go to counties and municipalities, Hardister said, “I’m absolutely open to that.”

He also said that the legislature was considering taking more than $300 million in COVID-19 relief money and allocating grants to businesses that were struggling because of the COVID-19 restrictions, but the details of how that would work had not been determined.

And he said that he thought it was time for the COVID-19 restrictions to be eased more than what Gov. Roy Cooper has already announced.  Hardister said, “If it were up to the leadership in the General Assembly, they’d be much less restrictive.  I believe our actions and words have possibly moved the governor to take action.”

He noted that under the eased restrictions, beginning on Friday, Feb. 26, bars can open to a maximum of 30 percent of the legal occupancy, but he thought that should be 50 percent, like restaurants.