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May 16, 2020 - COUNCIL ENDORSES COVID-19 RATES FINANCIAL HARDSHIP POLICY

A COVID-19 Rates Financial Hardship Policy was endorsed at yesterday’s meeting of Council aimed at providing relief to ratepayers who are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay rates and charges due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
 
The Rates Financial Hardship Policy is intended to provide a mechanism which enables ratepayers to approach Council about outstanding rates and utility charges.
Due to COVID-19 it’s anticipated that revenue will reduce by $557k for this year, and $1.15m for the financial year 2020-2021. 
 
If a ratepayer is eligible under this policy, they will have access to a Financial Hardship Agreement which will prevent interest from being charged on all outstanding debt until such time this policy is revoked by Council.
 
COVID-19 has impacted a range of services that Council delivers to the community and as result Council has initiated several measures in response to assist the community and staff to ensure business continuity. 
 
Council has updated its Business Continuity Plans, created a Pandemic Response Plan and a Pandemic Committee which works closely with the Local Disaster Management Group. To support the community and customers, Council has undertaken the following measures:
 
placing a hold on external debt recovery until 30 June 2020 with a review to be undertaken at a later stage;
refunding fees related to event permits and bookings unable to take place with current restrictions;
special payment run to suppliers at the onset of restrictions;
reduced payment terms for suppliers from 30 days to 14 days;
stores providing assistance to Community Housing in sourcing supplies;
Council libraries increasing eLearning catalogues and providing online services and extended loan periods;
waiving green mulch loading fees at transfer stations;
waiving fees associated with the request for refund of monies in credit related to rates.
In addition, under the Rates Recovery Policy, Council has provided ratepayers the opportunity to enter into Formal Arrangements, General Arrangements and Short Term Arrangements depending on circumstances.
 
Application guidelines and forms for the COVID-19 Rates Financial Hardship can be downloaded from Council’s website, or available for collection at Customer Service Monday 18 May 2020.
 
For further information contact Council on 1300 763 903 or enquiries@cassowarycoast.qld.gov.au.
 
Quotes attributed to Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mayor, Mark Nolan:
 
‘As a Council we have a responsibility to our community to show empathy towards and help them through these hard times,’’
 
‘A lot of people are doing it tough at the moment and I am thankful that we are able to provide some relief to help ease the burden,’
 
‘My fellow Councillors and I have listened to our residents and are responding with a policy that will provide relief to ratepayers who are experiencing financial hardship.