Council has adopted a Rates Assistance policy to ensure that ratepayers who are experiencing financial hardship can get some form of financial relief in meeting their property rates, charges and levy payments, and there are a couple of different methods which you can access to receive assistance.
However, if you're unable to pay your rates in accordance with the set payment schedule, you should first contact the Rates Coordinator for a confidential discussion regarding these options prior to making an application for rates assistance.
An individual payment plan might, for instance, allow pensioners to pay on a fortnightly basis to assist their budgeting process. Ratepayers who receive Centrelink payments can apply through either Council or Centrelink to have fortnightly payments taken directly from their allowance and paid to Council at no cost to the ratepayer. Interest would continue to be charged on rate arrears.
A deferred payment plan allows the rates to become a charge on the property. The charge incurs interest over time, but it stops the immediate cash pressures on you, the property owner.
For example, if a property as at the 2020 valuation was valued at $300,000 and the property attracted an increase of 10%, the capital value would've increased by $30,000, whereas the rates payable over the year would only be a fraction of that. This means that you have increased wealth of $30,000 but it wouldn't be recognised in cash terms.
By opting for deferment and making the rates an outstanding charge on the property, you no longer have the worry of financing your rate payment. The debt that the property acquires would be settled on disposal of the property. Note that interest would continue to be charged on the arrears balance.
The municipal rates concession provides for a rebate to eligible pensioners of up to 50% on rates and charges on your principal place of residence. The rebate for 2020/21 is $241.00, and this amount increases with the Consumer Price Index every year. An additional annual payment of $120 is offered by the Borough of Queenscliffe in 2020/21 to all properties with an eligible DHS pension concession. Eligible pensioners will also be entitled to a rebate of $50 off their Fire Service Property Levy total charges.
Rate concessions are available to holders of Department of Veterans Affairs Concession Cards, TPI, POW, EDA and War Widow Repatriation Cards and Centrelink Pensioner Concession Cards. Applications can now be made online by downloading this form from the DHHS website.
For more information on concession programs, please call 1800 658 521 or visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Council Policy CP031 Rates Assistance ensures Council is sensitive and responsive to ratepayers experiencing financial hardship, by establishing a mechanism through which Council can offer some form of financial relief to ratepayers experiencing financial difficulty in meeting payments for general rates, waste management charges and other rates and charges.
Council also has a specific COVID-19 pandemic hardship policy: CP048 COVID-19 Financial Hardship.