Whakatāne District Council is reminding the community that though rates are due this week, there are options available for those who may be struggling to be pay them.

Whakatāne District Council General Manager Finance and Corporate Services, Helen Barnes, says rates ensure households have safe drinking water, the wastewater treatment system keeps operating, rubbish is collected, essential roading and safety repairs are made, burials can take place, and our emergency services (Civil Defence) are operational. “We know that many in our community are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19,” she says.

“It’s important for us as a community that you continue with your rates and direct debit payments so that we can continue to provide essential services to the community and to support our recovery. We can work through options with you if you think you might have difficulty meeting your next payments.”

Some options are to:

·        Set up a direct debit to spread your payment equally over the instalment period or beyond if necessary

·        Consider reducing the frequency of an existing direct debit to make smaller, more regular payments

·        Reduce the amount of your direct debit temporarily until your situation improves

·        Defer the payment of the next instalment without penalty, then pay two instalments together next time

·        Investigate other forms of financial assistance that may be available such as, talking to your bank, or seeing if you are eligible for a government subsidy.

Ms Barnes notes that late payment penalties will not apply if a payment arrangement has been agreed. “Our rating team is happy to work through the options with anyone in this position.”

“If you can pay your next instalment, then please do so,” says Ms Barnes. “If you think you might need some help, then email info@whakatane.govt.nz or call 07 306 0500.”

Online payments have zero fees and can be made by credit card or a direct account-to-account transfer via your bank. Please contact our customer services staff if you would like further assistance with online payment options.