27 Apr 2020

Invercargill considers rates relief

6:42 am on 27 April 2020

The Invercargill City Council is considering becoming the latest local authority to offer rates relief to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt. Photo: RNZ / Lydia Anderson

The council's special committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the policy which will allow ratepayers to postpone rates payments.

It was unclear how the scheme would affect the council's income, but it budgeted for lending an additional $10 million if needed.

Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said councillors were united in their focus on the welfare of their community.

"We recognise that Covid-19 is creating unique challenges for our community. Many of our ratepayers are facing significant financial challenges, and are looking for ways to lighten the load.

"Council must continue to maintain financial prudence, while stimulating the city's economy as we look to recover from Covid-19.

"This is why we asked council staff to consider ways to help ratepayers financially during this time, if they need it."

Before the pandemic Invercargill's unemployment, at 6 percent, was above the national average.

Many ratepayers might already be eligible for the rates rebate scheme offered by central government and council staff could assist with applications, Sir Tim said.

If the council approved the draft rates postponement remissions policy for consultation, the public would be asked to share their opinions on it next month.

In the meantime, preparations had been made so ratepayers with immediate concerns about their ability to pay their rates would be able to discuss those concerns with staff.

If, after consultation, the pandemic rates support package was not approved, ratepayers would be able to apply for remission of rates penalties instead.

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