The City of Ballarat is postponing rates payments for businesses facing hardship during the COVID-19 crisis.
The move was announced on Friday afternoon, following yet more business closures around the city.
It means the quarterly rates instalments due this financial year on May 31 would be pushed back until June 30.
The measure only applies to ratepayers who have suffered hardship as a result of COVID-19. There would also be no interest accrued on any overdue payments, the Ballarat mayor Cr Ben Taylor confirmed.
As a council, we're working to come up with other solutions to help with rates across this city, but we need help to do thatThe mayor Ben Taylor
"We're putting a suspension on those rate notices for those people in hardship at the moment," Cr Taylor said in a video message.
He said he would continue to advocate for further assistance from the state government.
"As a council, we're working to come up with other solutions to help with rates across this city, but we need help to do that."
"We need the state government to assist us to do that, and I have written to the local government minister to ask for that assistance as we go through this time."
Cr Taylor said the municipality would need to keep some funds available to kickstart the local economy when the pandemic was over, as well as provide essential services in the meantime.
Speaking to The Courier, he said: "We understand this is not a lot in the short term, but it's something we can do right now. We can put a hold on rates for those people that are really struggling."
The deferral of rate payments, as well as the waiving of interest charges on overdue payments will apply to payments due from March 1.
The announcement was welcomed by Jodie Gillett, the CEO of Commerce Ballarat. However, Ms Gillett said it was likely the extension would need to be reviewed.
"We encourage [City of Ballarat] to continue to have this discussion because it is likely that the extension to June 30 will not be far enough out to assist our businesses," she told The Courier.
"The Ballarat business community has great heart, entrepreneurship and stamina but to recover from a situation such as this will take time."
The Courier has inquired whether the rates postponement also applies to residential homeowners in hardship.
- To discuss postponing rates, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the City of Ballarat on 5320 5500.
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