Cardinia Shire Mayor Councillor Jeff Springfield has announced Phase 2 of Council’s Community and Business Support Package.
The package is designed to assist community members, support groups and businesses to cope with the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Council has dedicated $1.6m towards phase 1 and 2 of the package in its draft 2020-21 budget.
Phase 2 Community Support Package
“As well as what we’ve already announced as part of Phase 1, we are now also offering extended due dates for rates payments, interest-free periods and various payment options,” he said.
Phase 2 package includes a range of rates support, including:
- Extended due dates
- Interest-free periods
- Payment plans
- A rebate for eligible Health Care Card holders
“The package includes providing a once-off rate rebate to eligible Health Care Card holders for the 2020-21 rating year, business fees and charges rebates, development of online tools to support businesses to develop e-commerce online services, emergency management response actions and assistance to community agencies in supporting vulnerable people,” said Cr Springfield.
Eligible Pensioner Concession Card and Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card holders are already entitled to receive, and will continue to receive, a discount on their rates if they reside in the property.
Here for our community
“We know people are doing it tough. We know households and businesses across the nation are feeling the emotional and financial pinch from coronavirus, and this is no different for us locally.
“We’re keen to help everyone in our community to get through this and to provide some relief to our community, businesses and local economy.
Cr Springfield said anyone experiencing financial hardship is strongly encouraged to contact Council.
“Our dedicated Customer Service and Rates team are here to help you. Our phone lines, emails and online forms as still open and accessible. Please, if you are facing financial hardship or feeling worried about paying your rates, fees or charges, contact us,” he said.
Cr Springfield reminds residents that normal concessions still apply for Pensioner Concession Card holders and Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card holders.
“Our whole Council team remains absolutely committed to delivering the important, critical and essential services while playing our part to slow the spread.
“We’re doing everything possible to deliver essential services and it is important that these services continue. We know that this is a stressful time – so ensuring we continue to deliver for the community, provide support options, and look after those most in need has never been more important,” he said.
“We need to work with each other at this time. Call us if you are experiencing payment difficulties, support local businesses where you can, and stay safe and informed.”
Draft Budget and Council Plan on exhibition
Cr Springfield added that Council’s 2020–21 budget, currently on exhibition, has also been developed with strong community support and adequate provision for economic stimulus to support local jobs and business, and that Council will continue to work with the state and federal government advocating for more ongoing support.
He said the draft budget proposes a steady, responsible financial approach with a strong understanding of household pressures and a focus on local economic stimulus in light of the world-wide Coronavirus pandemic.
“Council is acutely aware of the uncertain times facing our community due to Coronavirus. Just in the past week or so we’ve announced Phase 1 and now we’ve announced Phase 2 of our Community and Business Support Package outlining immediate support for households and businesses.
“These are real-term supports for our community at this time.
“Importantly, the proposed budget takes a similar approach – keeping household and business rates affordable while delivering essential community services alongside major projects for current and future economic stimulus and community needs,” he said.
An important element to Council’s draft 2020-21 budget is the allocation of $1.6 million that will be reinvested in the community for ongoing support to assist community members, support groups and businesses to cope with the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This includes providing the once-off rate rebate to eligible Health Care Card holders for the 2020-21 rating year, business fees and charges rebates, development of online tools to support businesses to develop e-commerce online services, emergency management response actions and assistance to community agencies in supporting vulnerable people,” he said.
Cr Springfield said value for money remains a guiding principle and to keep rates as affordable and responsible as possible all of Council’s services will be delivered within the Victorian Government’s Rate Cap.
“We’re sticking to the state government’s rate cap, keeping rates as responsible as possible at this time and working hard to deliver the ongoing services our community needs.
“Our focus on delivering essential services means all of the services our community needs and expects – including roads, rubbish and recycling, maternal and children’s services, library services, sporting ovals, street-sweeping and community supports from school crossings to senior citizens centres – will still be delivered within the rates cap,” said Cr Springfield.
Cr Springfield added that the budget will also provide for an important and significant forward-thinking capital works program to support jobs and economy, as well as the needs of our fast-growing shire now and into the future.
“The capital works schedule not only ensures residents across the shire will have new recreational and leisure opportunities, but it also provides important investment for our local economy.
“Projects such as major road works, and sports and community projects at Toomuc Reserve, Comely Banks, Koo Wee Rup, Emerald and Cockatoo will provide stimulus activity and are important deliverables for all of our fast-growing community.
“As a local Council, focussed and working at the at the local level, we are proactively addressing the nation-wide challenges of affordability, delivering essential services within a rate cap, and investing in our community and economy for the future.
“My fellow Councillors and I have worked hard on this budget to provide the best possible value for our residents while balancing these challenges,” he said.
Cr Springfield stated Council will continue to advocate for state and federal support for local projects including across transport, roads, sports, health and education priorities.
The annual budget enables the delivery of the Council Plan, with its focus on our five key priority areas: Our People, Our Community, Our Environment, Our Economy and Our Governance. It has been developed in line with Council’s commitment to improving the liveability of Cardinia Shire in a financially responsible manner, and the draft Council Plan 2020 is on public exhibition alongside the draft budget.