At last night’s Council meeting the General Manager, Kerry McMurray tabled a report proposing a range of financial relief measures aimed at alleviating financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The councillors unanimously voted to adopt the COVID-19 financial relief package. The councillors agreed that this decision is a positive and significant way in which Council can assist the community through this crisis.
Those who cannot pay their rates and annual charges, due 31 May, can now defer until 31 August without incurring any penalty charges through interest.
Ratepayers, whose property is their primary place of residence, can now apply via an ‘easy to use’ online rate relief form.
Council recognises that there are ratepayers, both residential and commercial, who have found themselves in challenging financial times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Council already has a Hardship Policy but recognises that the impacts of the COVID-19 virus are further reaching and more universally available measures are warranted.
The financial impact on council’s cash will depend on the community take up of this option but could be in the order of $5.9M, however all were in agreement that the relief to the community outweighed the financial loss.
Councillors also elected to adopt the National Cabinet Code of Conduct. Business leasing council property who have suffered financial losses to their business income can now apply for rent reductions and rent reviews have been deferred for 12 months.
Other measures include:
• Small businesses are now being paid within a two-week period instead of 30 days
• Outdoor and fitness fees have also been waived
• Changes to cancellation or moving of council bookings
Council will revisit these relief options if necessary and a monthly report of will be presented to Council on community take up.