THE City of Greater Bendigo is postponing rate payments by one month as it tries to alleviate pressure on a community in crisis.
It will also defer all payments for those experiencing financial hardship until September.
Those delayed payments will not accrue interest or be charged for overdue payments until September 20.
People on quarterly installments will also get an extra month to pay their rates bill, which is now due on June 30, but council leaders are stressing that its dates are flexible and is urging people to get in touch and make alternate arrangements if they qualify for extra help.
The council is also delaying its budget process in a play for time as it rewrites parts of a draft budget it had nearly completed before the pandemic hit.
It is now moving to a crisis and recovery footing and councillors have delayed releasing the budget for public consultation from April to May as their officers retool the document, corporate performance director Andrew Cooney said.
"There's a bit of work for us to do to come up with those measures, price them and then put them back to councillors to consider," Mr Cooney said.
It is too early to put a figure on how much money the council will inject into the budget to help people through the crisis and recovery stages of the pandemic, he said.
"We only made this decision this week."
It is also too early to tell what effect the $190 million budget the council unveiled last year as expected revenue sources dry up, like parking in the city centre.
The council had budgeted for an $8 million surplus and Mr Mooney said it could come in useful, assuming it had not washed away by the new financial year.
The final budget is expected to be handed down midway through June, rather than May, with the public getting a month to view it and give written feedback, Mr Cooney said.
"The only part of that process we are reviewing is the public hearing we would normally have for people who had questions or wanted their opinion heard. We've always done that face-to-face but we are looking at all sorts of technology to make that happen," he said.
To find out about the council's financial hardship options email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 5434 6000.
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