Council is playing a key role in supporting the community during emergencies such as COVID-19. While Council operations are being significantly impacted by the pandemic, they are continuing to support the community and business by providing essential services.
Council has initiated a campaign called “Helping Hepburn”. It is designed to let the community and business know how they can help them, or alternatively point them in the right direction for information on other support services.
A package of financial relief options for residents and businesses to support the Hepburn Shire community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been confirmed.
With State and Federal Governments taking the lead on major financial measures, including the new Jobkeeper and increased Jobseeker programs to keep regular income coming into households, Council has decided to put in place some relief measures that will alleviate the pressure of upcoming payments.
Mayor, Cr Licia Kokocinksi, said Council was doing their bit to support the community and business during this difficult time.
“Council recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge disruption to our lives, that the impacts have been sudden to both residents and local businesses, and that the new financial measures will give a meaningful helping hand,” she said.
“These measures are being put in place whilst also maintaining our delivery of important community services, our responsibilities as a significant local employer and our need to remain financially responsible.”
Already in place are:
• There will be no interest charged on outstanding rates balances for the 2019/20 financial year. This applies to all property types, for payments made before 30 September 2020.
• Enactment of the emergency clause of current hardship policy, as a result of this, any ratepayers who are suffering financial hardship can make an application for deferment of payment of rates and charges. This applies to all property types.
• Additional time for residents to pay pet registrations. An extension of two months with payment now due 10 June 2020.
• Processing supplier payments weekly to support them with improved cash-flow.
Council will also deliver the following COVID-19 related relief measures:
• Refund of all permit fees for events and activities that have been cancelled or closed as directed by Government.
• Dedicated COVID-19 business support page on Council’s website with links to Federal and State Government programs (https://www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/covid-19-business-information-links/)
• Access to dedicated business support officer within Council for local businesses to receive individual assistance – contact them on 5321 6122 or 5321 6105 or email email@example.com.
• Council has agreed to assist commercial tenants occupying Council buildings through to 30 September 2020 following the newly released Code of Conduct for Commercial Leasing Principles, with immediate rent deferment of six months. Council and tenants share a common interest in working together, to ensure business continuity, and to facilitate the resumption of normal trading activities at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic during a reasonable recovery period and will work through with individual tenants.
• Council will continue budgeted capital works as scheduled to maximise local business and employment opportunities.
• Waiver of rent for community groups that are occupiers for Council Buildings and Facilities, for 1 April 2020 through to 30 June 2020.
• Council will also provide all ratepayers with a one-month extension on the due dates for the fourth rates instalment, to 26 June 2020.
“Residents who have not been directly impacted by this crisis can also make a positive difference by paying their rates and fees on the regular schedule, allowing Council to continue delivering many essential services for our most vulnerable residents including home and personal care for aged and disabled residents,” Cr Kokocinksi said.
“Council is supporting local business during this time with the development of a dedicated business support officer to assist businesses to access the information they need, and for the business that occupies Council’s facilities, a deferment of rent for up to six months.”
“Councillors understand the significant contribution that our local community groups play in our community, and the limited financial capacity they operate in, so have waived rent for these community groups when in Councils facilities for 3 months.”
Chief Executive Officer, Evan King, stated that Council is working to implement its financial relief options as soon as possible, and continues to monitor announcements from other Governments.
“Hepburn Shire Council is joining municipalities across Victoria to lobby for State Government support to deliver rate relief that can be passed on to residents, along with seeking a deferment of the significant increase in the waste levy charged by the Victorian Government,” he said.