Council Consider Rate Relief Options
Balonne Shire Council are currently considering a number of strategies aimed at providing rate relief to residents impacted by enduring drought, major flooding, and the recent global pandemic.
“We have a fiscal responsibility to ensure the financial sustainability of Council into the future, while balancing that against the unprecedented challenges and stress facing our communities” said Mayor Samantha O’Toole.
Strategies in consideration include no increases to rates for some rating categories, extended payment and discount periods, as well as some fee waivers. These strategies will mean Council’s revenue will not increase for the 2020/21 financial year.
Council are proposing no rate increases for some rating categories, including utility charges. A sixty-day discount period for August 2020 is also under consideration and would apply to all ratepayers, allowing residents additional time to pay rates and take advantage of the 10% early payment discount. It is likely that the February 2021 levy will retain the thirty-day discount period, however Council will have the opportunity to reconsider this decision, during the financial year, under recent COVID-19 changes to the Local Government Act.
Food Shop Licence fees are likely to be waived for 2020/21. Inspections will continue to ensure premises meet public health requirements. This will provide some relief to those commercial operations that have been impacted by the restrictions surrounding COVID-19.
A benchmarking and cost recovery review has been undertaken for pedestal charges in accommodation, commercial and non-commercial premises, which may result in a move to a flat $250.00 charge per pedestal. If adopted, affected premises could see a reduction in utility charges in the August 2020 levy.
Council will continue with their seven-year rating strategy for rural categories, working towards a single rate by 2025/26. Council will contact all landholders impacted by the seven-year rating strategy, acknowledging that many are still affected by limitations following the 2017/18 valuations.
Strategies under consideration are consistent with the National Hardship Guidelines, announced by the Federal Government in April 2020.
“We are committed to working with anyone experiencing financial difficulty and would urge those residents to contact Council regarding special payment arrangements” said Mayor O’Toole.
For more information;
Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole; m: 0428 887 100, e: Samantha.O'Toole@balonne.qld.gov.au