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More help to rebuild after fires

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes is proposing Eurobodalla Council allocate $200,000 of Disaster Recovery Funding from the Commonwealth Government to help property owners significantly affected by the bushfires with the cost of DA fees to rebuild their homes.

Under Cr Innes’ proposal to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, eligible ratepayers could submit an application through the Eurobodalla Disaster Relief Fund for up to $1000 to assist with DA fees.

“The aim of this proposal is to further support those members of the community who have been significantly impacted by the bushfires, to speed up the recovery efforts and to help them rebuild,” Cr Innes said.

A further $200,000 would be allocated to Council’s Disaster Relief Fund specifically for businesses that lost revenue from the recent bushfires or COVID-19.

“In an effort to assist the building industry, it is also proposed that S94 and S64 contributions, which go toward the cost of Council infrastructure associated with development, be deferred to later in the process,” Cr Innes said.

Changes to Council’s hardship policy are also proposed for those who need help paying their rates.

“If approved, Council would offer interest-free payment plans over 12 months, which is on top of the state government paying six months’ rates for those who lost their home in the fires,” Cr Innes said.

“Ratepayers also have a one-month extension on their first quarterly rates instalment to Wednesday 30 September.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, councillors will consider whether to adopt proposed budgets and plans for the 2020-21 financial year, including a 2.6 per cent rate rise – the NSW Government’s recommended increase for councils this year.

The rise would equate to around $77 a year for the average residential ratepayer, or $1.49 per week. Cr Innes said no one liked to hear of a 'rate rise' but it was in everyone's interests to invest in Eurobodalla's future.

“Like everything else, rates go up every year to cover the costs of keeping our shire in good shape,” she said.

“The Australian and NSW Governments have acknowledged that one of the best ways to boost our economy is continued investment in local infrastructure and services. We need to do our bit too.

“We know the past six months have been extraordinarily tough on our entire community. We want to help our community thrive again.”

Cr Innes said that around 30 per cent of Council’s proposed $123 million budget this year would be spent supporting local businesses via contracts and materials.

“When Council spends money, the whole community benefits,” she said.

Council’s Draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and Operational Plan 2020-21, incorporating the budget, fees and charges, revenue policy, will be considered at the ordinary meeting of Council on Tuesday 23 June.

The meeting will take place on the video platform ‘Zoom’ and will also be webcast.