24 July: Scenic Rim ratepayers whose circumstances have changed or who are
experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for assistance following
Council’s changes to its rates and charges.
Scenic Rim ratepayers whose circumstances have changed or who are experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for assistance following Council’s changes to its rates and charges in response to COVID-19.
With rates notices to be issued on 28 July, Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said residents and business operators experiencing financial difficulty should be aware they now have access to a wider range of rates assistance options.
“Council recognises that drought, bushfire and now the COVID-19 pandemic have all impacted members of our community financially,” Cr Christensen said.
“For the first time, as part of the Scenic Rim Economic Stimulus Package 2: COVID-19,Council has extended its Financial Hardship Policy on overdue rates and charges to include all ratepayers.
“While previously this applied only to residential and rural ratepayers on their principal place of residence, it has now been extended to commercial ratepayers.”
The Financial Hardship Policy has also been extended to include impacts associated with extraordinary events such as COVID-19, providing concessions for approved applicants with the suspension of interest on overdue rates and charges and the suspension of debt recovery actions.
Council is also suspending the levying of calculated interest on all overdue rates and charges balances from 1 July to 30 September 2020.
Although the adopted interest rate charged on outstanding rates and charges balances is currently set at 8.53 per cent for the 2020-21 financial year, Council has applied a 3.53 per cent offset for all ratepayers on interest for outstanding rates and charges as part of its COVID-19 initiatives. This means an effective interest rate of five per cent will apply from 1 October to 31 December 2020.
Ratepayers can apply for assistance under the Extraordinary Circumstances provisions from 1 July to 31 December 2020 and the relief period for approved applications will run until 30 June 2022.
A discount of five per cent will be allowed only on current general rates if the total amount of all rates and charges, including overdue amounts, is paid by 28 August 2020, based on the rates notice issue date of 28 July.
In addition to rates assistance for those experiencing hardship, a discount of three per cent will be allowed only on current general rates if the total amount of rates and charges, including overdue amounts, is paid between 29 August and 28 September 2020.
“These are tough times for many in our community and those struggling need to know that support is available,” Cr Christensen said.
"Council continues to provide rates relief for drought-affected primary producers, whose rated property is their primary source of income.
"We also continue to offer approved landowners directly impacted by the Scenic Rim bushfires in late 2019 the ability to defer their January and July 2020 rates payments until 31 December 2020.
“Residents and business operators wishing to access rates assistance as a result of the impacts of drought, bushfire or COVID-19 will need to make direct contact with Council.
"We recognise that everyone’s circumstances are unique and, whether they have been impacted by ongoing illness or loss of employment, we encourage them to contact Council to discuss the options available.”
The Queensland Government also provides rates assistance to eligible Scenic Rim residents.
Ratepayers who hold a Queensland Centrelink Concession Card, Department of Veterans’ Affairs Pension Concession or Veteran Gold Card are able to apply for the Queensland Government Pensioner Rate Rebate, which offers a maximum rebate of $200 from their annual rates bill.
To be eligible for the Queensland Government's Pensioner Rate Rebate, the ratepayer must be the owner or life tenant of the property, which is their principal place of residence in Queensland, and legally responsible for paying rates and charges levied on that property.
“Pensioners already registered with Council and verified with Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs will continue to receive the rebate each year without the need to re-apply, providing their circumstances have not changed,” Cr Christensen said.
“Anyone else who considers they now meet the eligibility requirements should download and complete the Pensioner Rate Subsidy Application, available in the Customer Service Forms section on Council's website, or contact Council on 5540 5111 for assistance.