Far North District Council ratepayers facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing drought may be able to defer paying their rates for up to six months.
The Council adopted the rates relief measure at its 9 April meeting in recognition of the financial hardship many rural, residential and commercial ratepayers are facing as a result of the pandemic and the nation’s response to it. It is effective immediately and is intended to provide relief to ratepayers who will receive 2019/20 fourth instalment rate invoices next week.
Mayor John Carter says the offer is an interim measure until the pandemic’s full impact on the economy is known. “We know many of our residents are struggling financially, because they have lost their job or their incomes have been reduced.”
Those applying for the assistance will need to meet simple criteria to demonstrate financial hardship. This includes loss of income, qualification for the Government’s pandemic support package or qualification for a mortgage holiday from a bank. “We want to help ratepayers through this unprecedented event. If the pandemic means you are struggling to make ends meet, contact us and we will see how we can assist, either by deferring rates bills or by referring you to other government assistance options.”
Mayor Carter says Council staff are also busy exploring central government funding options to help get the district’s economy back on track as quickly as possible after the lockdown. “We have prepared a number of large and small infrastructure proposals we believe will create jobs and stimulate the economy.”
Planning is also well-advanced on how the Council will restart non-essential services once pandemic restrictions are relaxed. “We will be guided by central government and health experts, but we are acutely aware of the leadership role the Council plays in our economy. We will be working hard to make the transition safe and seamless.”
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