Council to look at hastening rates relief

The Clutha District Council will look at accelerating rates mitigation measures during its annual plan meeting on Thursday.

New measures could be put in place as soon as next month, although several steps remain to be taken to satisfy statutory requirements.

On Thursday, the council will be asked whether it wishes to establish a working group to oversee potential changes to its ratings policy.

Only if that approval is given will any new measures be considered.

Among draft measures discussed in a report from council chief executive Steve Hill are broadening the qualifying criteria for post-Covid-19 rates remission, and rates postponement.

Expanding qualifying criteria would allow those experiencing hardship as a result of Covid-19’s personal or economic effects to postpone, reduce or waive some payments.

Rates postponement would allow rates to be charged to a property during the postponement period, and paid at the end of the term or when the property was sold.

Mr Hill said under current policy, the council’s ability to assist ratepayers was limited, and could only be changed after lengthy public consultation.

However, the Covid-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Bill — which is expected to be passed into law later this week — would shorten the requirement for consultation and decision-making to just "two to three weeks".

That meant new measures could be in place as early as next month, subject to council approval, he said.

During its meeting on Thursday, the council will also consider ways to reduce its proposed draft rates increase of 3.61%.

This will include consideration of a 0% increase, the report says.


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