Shire of Denmark vote on rates relief

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
Denmark Shire Council Administration Centre.
Camera IconDenmark Shire Council Administration Centre. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Shire of Denmark council has adopted a new financial hardship policy and formalised its response to the COVID-19 crisis after a vote at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Councillors endorsed a motion that no ratepayers should pay more in rates than assessed last year, unless improvements or developments had occurred on their property which had increased its rateable value.

Fees and charges would remain the same for the 2020-21 budget where possible.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the council also voted to adopt a financial hardship policy to “formalise and clarify” the process for ratepayers seeking help when facing financial hardship.

The policy can be applied to outstanding rates and services at the date the policy was adopted, as well as future rates and charges.

The Shire did not previously have a financial hardship policy.

As part of the policy, the criteria to determine financial hardship includes unemployment, sickness, low income and unanticipated circumstances.

Ratepayers who meet the criteria will face no penalty interest or instalment interest rates, and the Shire can suspend any debt recovery processes.

Shire acting chief executive David Schober said the Shire would update its long-term financial plan to incorporate the changes.

“The council have shown very strong leadership through this period,” he said.

“Every tier of government, whether it be Federal, State or local, needs to assist all people who have been impacted through COVID-19.

“This is one way that we can certainly recognise this is in the financial hardship policy for those who are doing it tough in these time.”

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