IMPLEMENTING a deferral on rates payments would have to be closely scrutinised to ensure Orange City Council did not break the bank, according to its newly-instated finance chairman.
Dubbo Regional Council recently voted to allow businesses receiving government assistance for COVID-19 to defer their May and August rates payments if they were suffering hardship.
A payment plan would enable them to pay their outstanding debt by December, with no interest charged.
Asked whether Orange should implement a similar policy, councillor Jeff Whitton said it should be investigated but the council needed to balance it against its financial position.
"The council's an employer as well and we don't want to have the position where the council can't afford to keep its operational staff working," he said.
"We don't want to sink our own ship."
He said there had been questions about rate relief generally but an open relief structure was an unlikely option.
But he said payment plans were available to spread the cost across a longer period.
"They've always been there because life throws things at you," he said.
"My advice to the community would be to approach the council offices and there are mechanisms in place to help.
"Council is open to helping people - we have to use common sense and be compassionate and look after those community members who are struggling at the moment."
Rates will rise by 2.6 per cent for the 2020-21 financial year, equating to $62.22 or $1.20 a week for residents and $133.47 or $2.57 a week for businesses.
Cr Whitton was elected unopposed to the position of finance committee chairman on Tuesday night and will continue in his current role of infrastructure committee chairman.
He encouraged ratepayers to enter their feedback on the draft budget.
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