Say goodbye to the early payment discount on Penticton utility bills.

City council in April eliminated a 10% discount for early payments and instead cut rates by 10% across the board for the remainder of the year as a broad form of COVID-19 relief.

But rather than switch back to the old system effective Jan. 1, council on Tuesday voted 5-1 to back a staff proposal that will see the early payment discount eliminated for good and a new 2% penalty added to late payments, effective Jan. 1.

Staff pitched the new system as more transparent and less cumbersome, but Coun. Frank Regehr suggested it’s also fairer.

“Although we call it a 10% discount, I think people who fail to pay on time would look at it as a 10% penalty, and I kind of think that’s a pretty onerous thing on people,” said Regehr.

Coun. Judy Sentes, who cast the lone vote in opposition, said she would have preferred to bring back the 10% discount, which was “well-valued” by many in the community.