Ipswich City Council has responded further to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing rates assistance for the community.
At its first official meeting this week, council approved an extension to the discount and due date for rate payments until 18 June.
Mayor Teresa Harding said many people were struggling financially and the latest council measures would provide some relief.
The current quarterly rates notices were issued with a discount and due date in mid-May. Council’s decision to move this date means that all ratepayers now have eight weeks until their rates are due on 18 June.
She said state and federal governments levied 97 per cent of taxes and that local government has the fewest levers.
“Much of council’s income goes directly to providing services for residents, and any decline in revenue could result in job losses which we want to avoid,” Mayor Harding said.
“I am really pleased that we are able to balance supporting families who are going through such hard times and still maintain the high level of service that council provides.”
She said extending the due date or discount date for the payment of the April-June 2020 quarterly rates from 14 May to 18 June will provide short-term and immediate relief to all ratepayers.
“For any ratepayer suffering from financial distress, this provides an additional 35 days or a period of five weeks before the rates become due.”
The extended due date will be available to all ratepayers regardless of land use or rating category, meaning the additional period is available to all residential and business properties.
“If people are still facing financial difficulty, they are able to ring the council’s customer call centre on 3810 6666 to discuss payment options,” she said.
Mayor Harding said council had started to provide relief over the past two months, which included the following support initiatives:
- Waiver and refund of a range of fees and charges including footpath dining, food licence, event licence, booking fees;
- Rent abatement for community and some commercial leases;
- Seven-day payment for council suppliers – additional $7m in one week;
- Coordination of a shovel ready and bring forward infrastructure list – $120m;
- COVID-19 Business Adaptation Program – over 200 participants;
- Business and Community Organisation Outreach – over 150 contacts;
- Transfer of council programs online (Story Time, Healthy Active etc);
- Launch of Ipswich Grant Finder support portal;
- Assistance for Ipswich Food Barn and Ipswich Hospital Foundation; and
- Free parking provided to West Moreton Health staff in Roderick Street.
Mayor Harding said it was a frustrating and challenging time for the communities of Ipswich.
“Our goal is to ensure Ipswich comes out the other side of this pandemic in the best possible shape – socially, economically and in a position of continued growth,” she said.
“It is pleasing to see council employees working together with so many public and private partners in our endeavours to reach the best possible outcomes for this city, in very trying times.”