Rates relief available

Yarra Ranges Council has released its first relief measures during the Covid-19 crisis.

All Yarra Ranges ratepayers are now able to access additional relief for payment of rates, under Council’s first stage of Covid-19 relief measures.

The first relief measures include extended payment dates and suspending penalty interest for overdue rates, temporary changes to who can access help through its Hardship Policy and rental relief for businesses and organisations renting a Council building.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Richard Higgins said that everyone’s day-to-day lives had been changed by Covid-19 in the past weeks.

“We know there are many people in the community who are now doing it tough, because of business changes or closures, employment changing and restrictions impacting the way we live our lives,” he said.

“This is an unprecedented situation, where many of us are facing significant changes and challenges – including unexpected financial strain and stress.

“Our first stage of relief will give community members some much-needed flexibility during these times.”

Council has introduced a number of initiatives for its first stage of relief, including:

Due date for payment of current year overdue rates extended until June 2020, with penalty interest suspended during this extended time

Any landowner can access payment plans or rates assistance under Council’s revised Hardship Policy, regardless of land usage, with every application assessed on its merit.

Assistance can include rates being deferred for 12 months.

Anyone seeking help through Council’s Hardship Policy won’t be charged penalty interest or have legal action taken on overdue rates for the period of deferral.

Community groups renting Council buildings won’t be charged rent if shut down during the pandemic

Businesses renting Council buildings can have rent payments deferred up to six months, with options to review and waive if deemed appropriate

Changed payment times for Council suppliers and contractors down to seven days (instead of 30) to get money to businesses faster

Cr Higgins said the council had also brought in measures to support restrictions and safety messaging from the State and Federal Governments.

“The community’s health and wellbeing is critically important, especially during this time, so we’ve increased cleaning of public facilities to help reduce the spread of the virus wherever we can,” he said.

“We know businesses are having to change their practices rapidly, so we’ve temporarily relaxed our restrictions on takeaway and home delivery so any food business can make the switch easily and continue trading while meeting the Stage 3 restrictions.

“Council has also received a large increase in requests for the Meals on Wheels service, but we also have a volunteer base which includes a lot of people from vulnerable demographics, so we’ve redeployed our staff to assist in this and other areas that need support.

“We’ll still be here, providing services to the community during this time and providing information and advice wherever we can through our website, contact centre and our email newsletters.”

Cr Higgins encouraged businesses impacted by Covid-19 to contact the Economic Development team on 1300 368 333 for questions or support.

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