Council approves more ratepayer relief and relaxed planning approvals

Published on 23 April 2020

Australian money

Council has endorsed further relief options for ratepayers for the 2020-2021 financial year, in addition to committing to a 0% rate rise.

These include an extension of time for alternative rate payment arrangements, and reductions to the interest rate and administration fees charged on rates instalments.

This comes in response to a report requested by Council to consider options to support the community amid COVID-19.

Relief around rate payment options include:

  • a reduction in instalment interest to 2%p.a
  • a reduction in interest payable on overdue rates to 4%p.a
  • a reduction in instalment charges to $7 per instalment 2, 3 and 4, a total of $21
  • a reduction in the administration fee payable for alternate repayment arrangements to $21
  • an extension for alternative payment arrangements to 30 June 2022.

Also at its April meeting, Council adopted a revised version of its Local Planning Policy 41, as a priority measure in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on local businesses. 

Mayor Vernon said: “The draft LPP 41 which deals with exemptions to changes of use and activities carried out from buildings, was due to be advertised following Council approval in March, but was put on hold, when COVID-19 hit. 

“The revised version now focuses on reducing the administrative burden of the Town’s local planning framework and maximising the flexibility and capacity of businesses to establish, move and expand within existing commercial buildings.”

The policy, previously proposed for the Albany Highway Precinct only, has been expanded in its scope to apply to a range of compatible commercial land uses in the Town’s local centre zones (these include Etwell Street, Archer Street and Lathlain Place), to support business recovery and continuity in these areas.

A further provision added, allows approved food and hospitality businesses (i.e. small bars, hotels, cafes/restaurants) to conduct activities consistent with a service industry and/or fast food outlet, without requiring development approval in all zones throughout the Town.

“This is aimed to enable our businesses to continue their operations, knowing they are not breaching local government planning controls, or subject to any overriding restrictions imposed by the State or Federal Governments,” Mayor Vernon said.

Additionally, following a notice of motion, Council requested a further report to be presented to its May Council meeting in response to COVID-19. 

The report will identify capital works that could be brought forward and delivered next financial year for budget consideration, with a view to stimulate the economy, increase local employment opportunities and improve local parks and places.