Wodonga Council has been called on to show some compassion to ratepayers by suspending rates and special levy charges due to the coronavirus crisis impacting all levels of the city.
Wodonga Ratepayers Association this week endorsed a 10-point plan put forward by Ratepayers Victoria which also includes no rate rises in 2020-21, a stop to all project spending and deferment of all non-essential projects and 25 per cent chief executive and senior staff pay cuts.
Association president Allan Bounader said the pain was being experienced across the board and council had a once-off chance to repay the community for the waste management levy controversy.
"Everyone is suffering hardship," he said.
"I can't see how they can do a realistic budget in the current climate because figures they prepare for the next financial year will be rubbery.
"They've got to realise we are in difficult times and council has to accept the fact they are working on behalf of the ratepayers who are struggling because they just haven't got the income.
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"There needs to be compassion shown to ratepayers and it doesn't matter whether they are mums and dads, business owners, farmers, whatever."
Former council staffer turned whistle-blower Charlie Mitchell said: "Wodonga Council deceived ratepayers for 10 years over $20 million.
"Wodonga mayor and senior management never fully apologised to their community for the under-handed rate gouging.
"It's time council used its financial reserves, tighten its belt and return $1000 ratepayer."
Wodonga Ratepayers Association is affiliated to Ratepayers Victoria and Mr Bounader said there were some items in the 10-point plan "you would need to have a serious think about".
Earlier this week, a council spokeswoman said: "It's too early to give a definitive answer on (rate relief and other measures), but we are talking to councils across the state and exploring all options".
But it hoped federal and state government stimulus packages could support businesses.
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