The City of Belmont unanimously voted, at its first electronic Ordinary Council meeting on 28 April, in support of a zero per cent increase in rate revenue for the 2020-2021 financial year.
Councillors also voted in favour of a raft of additional financial assistance measures aimed at alleviating some of the financial burden being faced by residents, business and clubs in light of COVID-19, many of which will take effect immediately.
“COVID-19 is potentially the biggest challenge our City has faced in most of our lifetimes and we want the people of Belmont to know that we are endeavouring to help and do whatever we can to assist the community,” Mayor Marks said.
“We were unanimous in our commitment to deliver a zero per cent rate increase for our community, however we also need to carefully ensure our focus is not just to cut costs, but to provide support now, and ensure capacity to continue to support in the future,” he said.
“In addition to the zero per cent rate increase, Council also voted in favour of adopting a Hardship Relief Policy, a 5% reduction of the Sanitation Service fees, waiving rates Penalty Interest for the balance of 2019-2020, freezing the rates instalment fee, instalment interest, penalty interest and alternative arrangement fee at 2019-2020 values for 2020-2021, and continue to provide a 5% discount for full payment of rates by the due date for the 2020-2021 financial year,” he said.
“Many Planning, Building, Health and Animal Registration fees will also be waived, and a funding commitment was made to establish online literacy programs for children and adults in the City,” he said.
“Last week #BeConnectedBelmont
was launched - a centralised digital hub of information about City of Belmont service changes and initiatives related to the impacts of COVID-19,” Mayor Marks said.
“This digital hub will be updated as initiatives are developed by the City in response to COVID-19. As part of #BeConnectedBelmont, dedicated resources are available for Business Support, Volunteering, Library Online, Safety and Your Neighbourhood.
“The City has also established the Belmont Community Care Hotline for residents and businesses seeking assistance or support during COVID-19. The Hotline 9477 7148 is open 8:30am - 5:00pm, Monday to Friday.
“Through this hotline, the City’s Belmont Community Care Team is available to connect the community with a wide range of Council and local support services.
“We remain focused on supporting our community through this challenging time.”
The full list of assistance measures endorsed includes:
- Endorse the application of a zero % increase in rate revenue for the 2020- 2021 financial year.
- Request the Chief Executive Officer to reiterate whenever possible to the State Government the need for the triennial revaluation to be delayed to ensure that individual ratepayers are not impacted by a redistribution of rates between properties due to valuation changes.
- Endorse the reduction of the Sanitation Service fees by 5% for the 2020-2021 financial year and reduce the fee for non-rateable properties to equate to the standard rubbish fee.
- Waive Rates Penalty Interest for the balance of 2019-2020 to recognise immediate impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on ratepayers.
- Endorse freezing the rates instalment fee, instalment interest, penalty interest and alternative arrangement fee at 2019-2020 values for 2020-2021.
- Continue to provide a discount of 5% for full payment of rates by due date for the 2020-2021 financial year to encourage those who can afford to pay to do so by the due date.
- Authorise the Chief Executive Officer to apply increased flexibility in the application of Policy BEXB7.4, including by allowing for an extended time to pay outstanding rates, where considered appropriate as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic until 30 June 2021.
- Endorse freezing Settlement Enquiry Fees at 2019-2020 values for the 2020- 2021.
- Endorse the Credit Card Merchant Services Fee to be charged only for credit card transactions for an amount of $100,000 or above, effective as soon as possible.
- Endorse the waiver of rent charges on leased properties, on application by the tenant due to COVID-19 pandemic impacts, for the initial period of 31 March 2020 to 30 September 2020.
- Endorse the freezing of clubs and active reserves rental and facility hire fees at 2019-2020 values for 2020-2021.
- Delegate authority to the Chief Executive Officer to waive the Planning, Building, Health and Animal Registration fees under the City’s control as identified in this report until 30 June 2021.
- Delegate authority to the Chief Executive Officer to waive other fees as required to assist the community negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic until 30 June 2021.
- Endorse the provision of additional operating grant funds to the Belmont Park Tennis Club Inc. and Belmont City Bowling Club Inc. to assist in the ongoing maintenance of their facilities for both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 financial years.
- Endorse the funding of $10,000 (2019-2020) and $30,000 (2020-2021) to establish online literacy programs.
- Endorse consideration for the funding of Small Business Advisory Services ($20,000) and Not-for-profit Support Program Grants ($40,000) for the 2020- 2021 Annual Budget.
- Authorise the Chief Executive Officer to apply a Local Purchasing Premium of up to 10% under Policy BEXB7.1 Purchasing (1)(iv) where all other quality, service and environmental impacts are negligible until 30 June 2021.
- Endorse funding of the 2020-2021 financial year revenue shortfall identified in this report to be funded from a combination of the Plant Replacement Reserve, Insurance Reserve and Land Acquisition Reserve for consideration in the 2020-2021 Annual Budget.
- Delegate authority to the CEO to work with individual clubs that are negatively impacted by the State of Emergency to assist clubs to address their individual circumstances, such as the waivering of rental charges for clubs and active reserves to facilitate future recovery activity by users.
- Create a Hardship Relief Policy where the CEO can respond to those negatively impacted by the State of Emergency whether they are residents, businesses or community groups.