COVID-19 has impacted the community, businesses and industries within our region and will continue to do so until the pandemic is under control. To provide relief to those impacted within our community, Council has initiated several measures in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to assist the community to ensure business continuity and economic sustainability.
A COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy has been endorsed by 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. It also provides a mechanism which enables ratepayers to approach Council about outstanding rates and utility charges.
In addition, under the Rates Recovery Policy, Council provides ratepayers the opportunity to enter into Formal Arrangements, General Arrangements and Short Term Arrangements depending on circumstances.
The COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy provides financial relief on rates and charges levied on eligible properties owned by ratepayers who are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay rates and charges due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
The newly revised policy provides two concessions:
- Concession for Ratepayers for overdue rates and charges
- Sewerage Charge Concession for Business Owner Occupiers
If a ratepayer is eligible under this policy to access the first concession, they will have access to a COVID-19 Financial Hardship Agreement which will prevent interest from being charged on all outstanding rates and charges until such time this policy is revoked by Council. If a ratepayer is eligible under the second concession, depending which Category they fall in to, they will have access to a sewerage charge concession on additional pedestals for the July to December 2020 period.
1. Concession for Ratepayers for overdue rates and charges
Applicants will be considered ‘eligible’ on the grounds of financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19 upon complying with the following criteria:
- the property is the owner’s principal place of residence, and the applicant must not own other investment property or properties either within or outside the Cassowary Coast region;
- the property is the owner’s principal place of business, and the applicant owns one other property within the region that is their principal place of residence;
- payments of rates by the ratepayer would cause financial hardship within the next twelve (12) months;
- the ratepayer does not have reasonable assets external to the property thus this application for relief on the grounds of hardship applies.
The assessment criteria for hardship consideration will be, but not limited to, the following:
- completed and signed “Application for Financial Hardship” form;
- copy of most recent pay advice, government benefit advice, or work cover statement;
- copy of most recent mortgage statement;
- copy of most recent credit statements (other than the mortgage statement) e.g. credit card(s), personal loan(s);
- copy of most recent bank statements for all accounts;
- medical practitioner or health professional letter (if applicable);
- any other supporting documentation relevant in supporting the application.
Applicants who have provided insufficient information will be contacted requesting further information. If requested information is not provided, or information cannot be substantiated, the application will not be considered.
2. Sewerage Charge Concession for Business Owner Occupiers
Applicants will only be considered to be eligible on the grounds of financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19 upon complying with the following criteria:
- the property is the owner’s place of business;
- operate within the boundaries of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council;
- be liable to pay the rates and charges for which the concession is sought;
- payment of rates by the ratepayer/business owner occupier would cause financial hardship;
- complete and sign the approved application form.
A business owner that meets the criteria in section 5.1 will be categorised in one of the following categories:
- Category 1 – A business owner occupier whereby the primary land use is one of the following:
- Land use 48 – Sports Clubs/Facilities;
- Land use 50 - Other Clubs (non-business);
- Category 2 – A business owner occupier whereby the primary land use is one of the following:
- Land use 42 – Hotel/Tavern;
- Land use 43 – Motel;
- Land use 47 – Licenced Club;
- Land use 49 – Caravan Parks.
- Category 3 – A business owner occupier whereby the primary land use is one of the following:
- Land use 07 – Guest House/Private Hotel
Council may provide a sewerage charge concession to properties that meet the criteria in section 5.1. The level of assistance provided for the business owner occupier categorised under section 5.2 of this policy will be as follows:
Sewerage Charge Concession
100% for the July to December 2020 period only
50% for the July to December 2020 period only
25% for the July to December 2020 period only