PAY DELAY: Rates relief if finances fall foul of virus
NOOSA ratepayers struggling with COVID-19 incomes losses may be given special extensions to pay their rates.
Councillor Karen Finzel in the latest round of meetings has asked council corporate services director Michael Shave about possible rate relief offers to Noosa.
“That will be on everybody’s lips out in (the) community who are struggling at this time with job losses and impacts of the COVID,” Cr Finzel said.
She asked as part of council’s current cash flow analysis to ensure the rate arrears ratio remains sustainable, was council looking at any process for those who tell council “it’s impossible for them to pay their rates?”
“How are we going to address that?” Cr Finzel said.
Mr Shave said rates affordability under these circumstances was “obviously a concern for me and the team”.
“There are already provisions within our rating policies to have arrangements to pay, so we do consider capacity for ratepayers who can’t pay their rates,” he said.
“We allow them to enter into payment arrangements.
“As part of the budget process, moving forward council needs to adopt a revenue policy and a revenue statement and we’ll be discussing different options there with councillors to potentially provide a bit more relief to ratepayers through potentially extended discount periods and so on,” Mr Shave said.
He said while those discussions were yet to happen, the council was looking at those options and “how that obviously affects council’s cash flows whilst trying to accommodate the challenges that are facing the community at the moment”.
The rates income stream up as of April was still holding up with general rates $138,000 above council’s year to date budget with $51.1 million received.
Mr Shave said the council was looking at achieving $1 million in cost savings to help offset a predicted revenue shortfall at the end of the financial forecast to be around $2.5 million.
The loss of income will be felt in areas like council’s lucrative holiday parks due to the coronavirus restrictions.
He said given this was a one in a 100-year pandemic, the council as an organisation was undertaking “belt-tightening” with “at least half a million in other savings that we’ve been able to quarantine to minimise that deficit at year end”.
“We’re looking at approximately between a 500 (thousand) and a million operating deficit as of 30 June, so in terms of overall cash flow that’s manageable,” Mr Shave said.
“Our sustainability is not compromised, however obviously going forward that will be discussed at the (council) budget workshops.”