Payment deferrals for 2020/2021 rates and charges
The draft 2020/2021 Budget’s $43.5M capital works program and $193M operating budget, which funds various essential services, is based on a two per cent rate increase but does allow for those experiencing financial hardship to arrange a payment plan or apply to fully defer payments until June 30, 2021.
The two per cent rate rise is in line with the Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates System.
Residents will see a small rise in the general waste charge ($8.55 for 140L bins) to cover increased State Government landfill charges. However, recycling and organics collection costs will only rise by one per cent (approximately $1). The rise reflects the costs of providing the service; Council does not make a profit from waste services.
The City has already introduced hardship measures to support community members during the COVID-19 pandemic. These have now been extended to include the ability for those experiencing acute financial hardship to arrange a payment plan or defer payments until June 30, 2021, including the suspension of interest on all overdue rates payments. The City will also halve its commercial rent charges for tenants experiencing financial hardship through to December 31, 2020.
Parking fees will remain the same as the previous financial year.
The City has also amended the normal Community Grants Program to re-direct this funding to support community groups and organisations who are providing vital services to community members. Not-for-profit or incorporated organisations can now apply for up to $10,000 through the special COVID-19 Community Group Essentials Grant until June 30, 2020.
Mayor Cr Margaret O’Rourke said the COVID-19 pandemic had put financial strain on many households and businesses.
“Councillors have focused on identifying a range of initiatives to support our community and businesses that are impacted by COVID-19. This includes easing the financial strain on households and businesses by enabling deferral of payments and charges,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“While Council is acutely aware of the financial pressure many households and businesses are under, the community relies on the many services we provide and subsidise. Local businesses and their employees benefit from Council’s investment in the economy. This includes ensuring that Council is positioned to support tourism and events when restrictions are relaxed, to get the economy moving again.
“While some functions (such as Bendigo Venues and Events and Bendigo Art Gallery) have been largely suspended during government restrictions, most of Council’s services continue to operate. We are still collecting rubbish, fixing roads and footpaths, mowing ovals, maintaining parks and gardens, providing immunisation, Maternal and Child Health, child care and aged care, as well as planning services, offering community grants, re-homing animals and overseeing building improvement projects at a range of community facilities.”
To view the draft Budget, go to www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/budget