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COVID-19: Here’s what to do if you can’t pay your rates

At the April 27 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors unanimously adopted a new policy – the Hardship Natural Disaster & Health Pandemic policy – that aims to “ease the financial burden on ratepayers who may face financial hardship when [a] natural disaster or health pandemic occurs”.

Specifically, the policy will “waive the interest charged on overdue rates and annual charges for properties directly affected by a declared event” and “provide affected ratepayers with a guaranteed position of assistance”.

To avoid CVC taking debt recovery action, ratepayers who find themselves in this position will have to “submit a Hardship Natural Disaster or Health Pandemic form detailing the payment schedule that ensures full payment of all rates and annual charges over a 48 months period”.

Ratepayers who submit a payment plan can “spread payment of rates and annual charges over a 48 month period,” the policy states.

“That is, payments may be less in the first instance and increase over the period of the plan to ensure completion in 48 months.

“When preparing a payment plan, applicants should consider CPI rate and annual charge increases across forward years.

“Payment plans must include quarterly payments at a minimum.

“Adjustments to the payment plan are to be by submission from the applicant.

“Interest will be waived on completion of the payment plan as agreed, annually.

“Council reserves the right to charge interest and commence debt recovery action if the agreed payment plan is defaulted.

“Sale of the property subject to a Hardship Natural Disaster or Health Pandemic payment plan will complete the payment plan.”

Staff advised councillors that the new policy “is considered to have minimal impact on the budget”.