RATEPAYERS may be set to receive relief of up to $5 million as part of a coronavirus rescue package.
Corangamite Shire councillors voted to defer and waive interest on rates until July this year and to not apply a rate increase in the 2020-21 budget.
Mayor Neil Trotter said the decision, made on Tuesday night, was a recommendation to the chief executive officer, pending the passing of the budget.
"This is a recommendation and is still to be approved in the budget, but what this hopes to do is minimise the pain for our community," he said.
"We're looking at a period of downturn for quite some time and it's only fitting that we take this opportunity.
"We can see our unemployment figures blowing up exponentially in the area due to coronavirus and we need to do what we can in our limited capacity to ease that pain."
Around $2.5 million will also be earmarked for a range of measures that could support ratepayers and businesses feeling the ripple effects of the coronavirus.
Corporate and community services director David Rae told The Standard on Tuesday night that council looks to forgo around $400,000 as a consequence of not raising the rates next year, and over the next four years will save ratepayers around $5 million all up when combined with the $2.5 million.
"Given the significance of COVID-19 on the broader economy and community council has made two very important decisions this evening," he said.
"The first relates to current rates where we have deferred payment that otherwise would be due on May 31 and extended it to July 31. Interest on those amounts will also be waived.
"The more substansive decision tonight was that council has directed the chief executive to consider preparing the budget with a zero rate rise in 2021.
"We have also received direction to make provision for about $2.5 million for a range of measures that could support ratepayers and businesses in the next financial year.
"It's quite significant, the community benefit looks to be around $5 million combined when compared with what council had initially considered in preparing its draft budget."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.