Council endorses $16.5m coronavirus relief package

Council endorses $16.5m coronavirus relief package

255
The City of Canning will consider a rate freeze in the next council meeting.

With many local councils freezing their rates only weeks after advice from the government, ratepayers in Canning were eager to find out what the coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package was going to include.

After a month of consideration, the City of Canning has endorsed a relief package worth $16.5 million to support its residents and invest in the local economy.

The City of Canning held an electronic special council meeting on April 30 and considered 15 different measures in a report titled Community and Business Support – Phase one response.

Some of these measures will impact the next budget, including a rates commitment, the determent of underground power charges and bringing forward key capital works projects.

The officer recommendation on property rates, fees and charges to allow the cessation of penalty interest, a pause on payments for up to six months and the establishment of alternative payment arrangements was approved by council last week.

In addition, the officer recommendation to grant temporary rental abatements for the city’s leased premises and a financial hardship policy was also approved by council.

Including that abatements of up to 100 per cent may be applied to rental payments for commercial tenancies and also to rental payments and outgoings for community, sporting or other non-for-profit tenancies for a period of six months.

According to the officer recommendation no discount will be applied to outgoing for commercial tenancies, but the recommendation stated that the city may consider the deferral of payments where necessary at the discretion of the chief executive officer.

A City of Canning spokesperson confirmed that monthly rental invoices for April and May have been held back for the majority of tenants, pending the rental abatement being discussed and endorsed by council.

“The city has not required payment, nor initiated any debt recovery during the pandemic period,” he said.

“All tenants experiencing financial hardship have been invited to make an application for rental concessions and approved abatement will be backdated to April 1, so I am confident none of our tenants have been disadvantaged by the date of our decision.”

It was also confirmed that the city has not reduced any wages for staff, including councillors and the mayor.

Meanwhile a City of Canning spokesperson told The Examiner the decision to deliver a relief package was always planned to be considered late in April.

“It is the culmination of a great deal of work by the council and administration and provides very welcome relief across a broad cross section of our community,” he said.

“All councils have different timing for their ordinary council meetings, our COVID-19 relief package was always planned to be considered late in April, which is similar to many other councils including Stirling and Belmont.”