Council cuts interest-free grace period for pensioners

Nowra senior citizens playing croquet recently. They plan on talking about the matter at an upcoming meeting.
Nowra senior citizens playing croquet recently. They plan on talking about the matter at an upcoming meeting.

Around 2000 Shoalhaven pensioners are likely to be worse off next year, as council is poised to increase rates, and remove the interest-free grace period.

Of the 10,000 pensioners in the Shoalhaven, 2000 took advantage of the interest-free grace period on rates paid last financial year.

Last night, at an extra ordinary meeting, councillors were faced with little choice but to remove the grace period, as the new computer system does not allow for the exemption.

The caveat for pensioners is that council will waive up to a year’s interest accumulated on a rates bill if any pensioner approaches council asking for help, under its hardship policy.

Council will provide an extra $10 rebate to all eligible pensioners to support the removal of the interest free period.

A majority of councillors present voted for the change.

Crs Bob Proudfoot, Mitchell Pakes and Mark Kitchener voted against the recommendation.

“You’re supporting a notice of motion that’s pushing older people that much closer to being homeless,” Cr Pakes said.

“I will not push our most vulnerable people that much closer to the edge.”

Left the room: Cr Greg Watson.

Absent: Crs Andrew Guile, John Wells.

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