The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is being felt globally, and that recent announcements of Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne, and Stage 3 in Regional Victoria, will continue to have even greater impact on our community. Council plays a key role in supporting our community during emergencies such as COVID-19. While Council operations are being significantly impacted by the pandemic, we are continuing to support the community and business by providing essential services.
Rates notices will be issued over the next fortnight. We understand the financial pressures facing the community, so we will be continuing a package of financial relief options for residents and businesses. Rates account for over 60% of Council’s income and fund the delivery of Council services and capital works.
Mayor, Cr Licia Kokocinksi, said we are doing our bit to support the community and business during this difficult time.
“Council recognises that the financial pressures being felt by the community and for this reason we have extending our support to the community. One of these important measures includes that all ratepayers have the opportunity to apply for the deferring of their rates due to hardship, and extension to rate payment deadlines.”
“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,” said Cr Licia Kokocinski.
Council is also facilitating the creation of a Business Response and Recovery Taskforce and a Community Recovery Taskforce to develop a recovery action plan and help our community rebound from COVID-19. The purpose of the taskforces is to act as forums for consultation and the provision of feedback and information exchange. They will support a coordinated response and approach to activities that will support our business and economic recovery. Expressions of Interest are now open and can accessed at https://www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/rebounding-from-covid-19/.
What has Council already put into place to support our community and what will continue?
- Council will provide all ratepayers with a two-month extension on the due dates for the 1st rates instalment, now due 30 November 2020.
- Council has decided there will be no interest charged on outstanding rates balances for the 2019/20 and 2020/2021 financial year. This applies to all property types, for payments made before 30 January 2021.
- Council continues a campaign called “Helping Hepburn”. It is designed to let the community and business know how we can help them, or alternatively point them in the right direction for information on other support services.
- We have enacted the emergency clause of our 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 – https://www.hepburn.vic.gov.au/rates-hardship-form/.
- We are processing supplier payments weekly to support them with improved cash-flow.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Council have agreed to assist commercial tenants occupying Council buildings. 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 of Council buildings and facilities, for 1 April 2020 through to 30 June 2021.