Fire and COVID-19 Support Package

1. About the Fire and COVID-19 Support Package

The Indigo Shire Stage 1 Fire and COVID-19 Support Package is designed to lessen the financial burden impacting many businesses and residents.

The bushfires and associated poor air quality severely affected local business reliant on Summer tourism and this flowed on to other support business and employees during what is normally the region’s most important trading season. Now COVID-19 is creating an even greater challenge across all areas of community and our economy.

Indigo Shire Mayor, Cr Jenny O’Connor says, “We understand members of our community are really struggling due to the dual impacts of the bushfire and now the Coronavirus pandemic, and as a Council we are committed to assist in any way we can.”

"This economic support package builds on the various assistance measures announced by the Federal and State Governments, including support for workers, small business operators, the unemployed and families.

We have a duty to care to our community, and this is why the package provides funding relief and direct support to our residents, community groups and local businesses. Measures include a deferment of fourth quarter rate installments for business and the waiving of a number of permit fees.”

“Our tourism, accommodation and retail sectors which form the backbone of our local economy have been severely impacted and we need to do what we can to ensure their long-term survival. We will be monitoring the flow of this support and will adapt measures as further Federal and State Government restrictions and requirements are announced”.

“Although Council is currently unable to meet at a formal Council meeting due to councillors heeding the advice to stay at home, a video conference meeting was held on Tuesday 7 April and we asked the CEO to implement these actions using his delegated powers,” Cr O’Connor concluded.

2. Support for Businesses

1. Businesses experiencing financial hardship may choose to defer their 2019-20 fourth quarter rates instalment to the 2020-21 financial year and spread the payment over that year.

Businesses eligible for any of the current Federal and State Government funding schemes will automatically be eligible for rates deferral to 2020-21 under this initiative.    

Other businesses experiencing financial hardship are still encouraged to apply. Each of these cases will be assessed on individual circumstances with outcomes customised according to the needs of each case. Details on how to apply are listed in Section 4.

All landlords and tenants are asked to communicate with each other to ensure the benefits of this rate deferral for eligible businesses is passed on to the tenant.    

2. No interest will be raised on business rates from 16 March 2020, the date a State of Emergency was declared, until 30 June 2020.

3. Waiving of building and planning permit fees for applications that relate directly to the COVID-19 emergency until 30 June 2020.

4. Waiving Outdoor Eating Facility permit fees for 12 months. Businesses still need to renew their permit and provide the applicable Certificate of Currency for $20 million. Businesses which have already paid their fee for 2020 will have this amount automatically carried forward and credited to their 2021 permit fees.

5. Waiving Display of Goods for Sale permit fees for 12 months. Businesses still need to renew their permit and provide the applicable Certificate of Currency for $20 million. Businesses which have already paid their fee for 2020 will have this amount automatically carried forward and credited to their 2021 permit fees.

6. Waiving Advertising Signs (A-frames, etc) permit fees for 12 months. Businesses still need to renew their permit and provide the applicable Certificate of Currency for $20 million. Businesses which have already paid their fee for 2020 will have this amount automatically carried forward and credited to their 2021 permit fees.

7. Facilitate and fast track development applications where possible to assist businesses attempting to diversify, adapt or expand.

3. Support for Residents

1. Residential ratepayers can enter into a payment arrangement or apply for financial hardship consideration regarding rates under Council’s Financial Hardship Policy. Each case will be assessed on individual circumstances with outcomes customised according to the needs of each case.

2. No interest will be raised on residential rates from 16 March 2020, the date a State of Emergency was declared, until 30 June 2020.

3. All debt recovery actions currently in progress will be put on hold until 30 June 2020.

4. Extending the due date of Animal Registration Fees to 30 June 2020.

4. Support for Community Groups

1. Waiver rent/fees for community and sporting groups for Council owned land/grounds from 1 March 2020 to 30 June 2020.

2. A reduction in rent by 50% for tenants of Council owned buildings or facilities from 1 March, 2020 to 30 June 2020.

5. How to apply

Businesses

All commercial and industrial ratepayers will receive information on how to apply in their 4th Quarter rate instalment notice.

All other businesses experiencing hardship are encouraged to apply by calling us on 1300 365 003 or sending as an email.

Residents

Our Financial Hardship Policy provides details on flexible financial arrangements for rate payers experiencing temporary and genuine financial hardship.

We encourage you to read the policy and then email us your reasons for applying. 

6. Advocacy

  • Council will continue to lobby the State and Federal Governments (including to the Federal Treasurer) to increase and expedite Federal Assistance Grants to allow local Councils to provide targeted rate relief for residents and businesses.
  • Council will continue to lobby the State and Federal Governments to provide for bushfire assistance grants to be available to affected businesses in Indigo (eg. Indigo is currently excluded from The $10,000 Small Business Grant for businesses able to demonstrate a 40% loss of revenue for the first quarter of 2020 whilst this is available in other directly fire impacted Shires)