$1.8 million in support for the community pivotal in endorsement of Council’s COVID-19 response

21/04/2020

A rebate to cover any increase in rates for residential, business and farmland property owners impacted by COVID-19 will be part of a suite of documents relating to Singleton Council’s draft revenue policies and Operational Plan for 2020-21 to be publicly exhibited following its first online Ordinary meeting last night.

The expansion of Council’s Hardship Policy to include the rebate is part of more than $1.8 million committed to date in Council’s Community Support Package, to provide relief for those financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis while continuing to deliver all of the day to day services our community expects.

“Council understands this is a very challenging time for our community, and especially those people experiencing a direct loss of income because of the COVID-19 crisis,” Mayor of Singleton, Cr Sue Moore said.

“The message is simple – if you have experienced direct financial impact from COVID-19, you will not be paying an increase in rates, waste, water and sewer fixed charges.

“We have set aside in excess of $1.8million to remove any increases. It is unprecedented but at the same time, something we know is right.

“Council is fortunate to be in a position to provide the rebates so that eligible property owners will not have to pay a cent more than last year while they get back on their feet. This provides significant ongoing challenges for Council’s financial health, but we recognise the need to act.”

Council’s Community Support Package, which was unanimously endorsed at last night’s meeting, also includes $500,000 for economic and community programs  to reduce the impacts on residents and businesses in the Singleton local government area in the short-term, while also paving the way for socio-economic recovery in the aftermath of the crisis.

In addition, Councillors approved an extension of Council’s Hardship Policy to allow deferral of the fourth rates instalment notice from 31 May to 31 August for ratepayers experiencing financial hardship and the removal of interest charges for overdue rates in 2021.

“We are taking every possible step to provide relief for our community where we can, as outlined in our Community Support Package, while continuing to provide the essential services people need,” Cr Moore said.

“The Community Support Package continues to grow and has many facets. So far, and including the array of approvals from last night’s meeting, it has gone past the $1.8 million mark.

“And we won’t stop there. We have already put in grant applications to try and grow it further and we are reviewing all of our other fees and charges.”

Council’s Revenue Policy - Rating Policy, including proposed rates charges for 2020-21 and the rebate scheme, will be open for community feedback alongside the draft 2020-21 Operational Plan from Wednesday 22 April 2020 to Wednesday 20 May 2020.

“The draft Operational Plan proposes capital expenditure of more than $45 million, and acts on Council’s move to broaden its income streams while helping to stimulate the local economy,” Cr Moore said.

“Although it was developed before the COVID-19 crisis, the plan will also be a footprint to supporting our community in the recovery phase in every aspect of Council’s operations, from major projects to help generate economic activity through to community events to bring people back together again. 

“I encourage everyone to take the time to review the documents and let us know your feedback to be involved in Council’s operations for the year to come.” 

The draft 2020-21 Operational Plan and associated revenue policies are available for viewing on Council’s website from Wednesday 22 April 2020. Hard copies are available on request by contacting Council’s Customer Service team on T 02 6578 7290 or E council@singleton.nsw.gov.au

ENDS