Further support for the community

Bega Valley Shire Council this week resolved on a suite of measures to further support our community, especially those impacted during the ongoing bushfire disaster.

Kiah Hall.10 February 2020

Bega Valley Shire Council this week resolved on a suite of measures to further support our community, especially those impacted during the ongoing bushfire disaster.

Key to this is the establishment of a detailed framework for minimising and waiving rates, fees and charges; and a formal commitment to further advocating for our community to the other levels of Government.

Council’s General Manager, Leanne Barnes, said this resolution again highlights and underlines our recognition of the widespread and devastating effect on our people, economy and environment and our ongoing commitment to doing everything we can to drive and provide all necessary support through the recovery phase.

“While the local community has displayed unbelievable resilience during the bushfire disaster it is vital that Council can provide a level of surety moving forward,” Ms Barnes said.

“It was certainly encouraging to see how readily the Councillors embraced the recommended relief measures and staff will now liaise directly with all impacted home owners, business owners and residents to ensure they are firstly aware of the measures and that necessary adjustments are made.  

“We (Council) would also like to formally thank the NSW Government for their decision to provide rate relief for people that have lost their home or business in the fires.

“This will cover the full cost of Council rates for the third and fourth quarters of this financial year, with final details on the process for this and refunds for those who have paid to be provided shortly.

“The NSW Government has also waived applicable government fees, effective immediately, on all development applications related to dwellings damaged or destroyed including the BASIX Certificate fee and the Planning Reform Fund fee.

“We also note that further work is being done to progress a waiving by the NSW Government of the long service levy applied to development applications.

“We are in this together for the long haul and we want to reassure our community that we have your back,” Ms Barnes said.

Waivers of rates, fees and charges

The following Council rates, fees and charges will be waived (a 28-day exhibition period of these changes is now required):

  • All fees associated with the lodgement of a development application, including any pre-lodgement advice, or complying development certificate and other certificates for current owners to rebuild their lost or damaged buildings or subsequent inspections.
  • Waste disposal gate fees for fire-affected material, subject to the NSW Government financing the cost to Council to dispose of and manage this waste.
  • Interest on General Rates instalments for the remainder of the financial year for fire affected properties (not destroyed but unable to be lived in).
  • Lease and licences fees paid to Council for use of Council owned and managed land and buildings from 1 January – 30 June 2020.
  • Fees for the reconnection of meters for properties who have had their water meter destroyed by fire.
  • Library charges for books lost due to bushfires and photocopying of replacement documents for bushfire affected residents.
  • Tree assessment fees on bushfire affected properties.

Other direct Council assistance

  • Those who lost their homes won’t be charged for water used since the last time their meter was read until a new meter is installed.
  • A $50 credit will be applied to the water account of customers across all Council water systems whose water use for the current period is calculated to be more than 10% above the previous three-year average.
  • A one-off reimbursement of up to 13,000L of water (noting this is cost of water only and not cartage by contractor) will be available to residents within fire affected areas that are not connected to Council’s reticulated water supply and have utilised the services of water carters accessing Council water fill stations.
  • Residential and non-residential sewerage customers who have lost their homes or businesses will receive a credit of 50% of the annual sewer and water access charges.
  • Free access to pools until 30 June 2020 for those who have had their primary residence damaged or destroyed.
  • Fire damaged pressure sewer systems will be repaired free of charge.

Council Advocacy

Along with the direct assistance being offered above, Council will also be taking a number of advocacy steps:

  • Writing to the Minister for Local Government and Deputy Premier/Minister for Recovery to request that serious consideration be given to extending the general rate relief to all ratepayers of the Bega Valley Shire Council for a six-month period as we are a severely affected Council.
  • Encouraging all landlords within the Shire to follow our path in terms of rent reductions in the immediate future.
  • Encouraging the NSW State Government to reduce payroll tax for employers in bushfire affected local government areas for the next three months.
  • The General Manager has been delegated authority to advertise the waiving of green waste fees should the NSW Government commit to funding the management, handling and processing of green waste for a fixed period.

Council is still imploring anyone who has been impacted by the fires in any way to register with the Recovery Centre to access these measures and all the other assistance available.

In our travels we have come across many people who feel they haven’t been as impacted as others and have expressed concerns about taking up services, however it is absolutely vital that the message gets out loud and clear that the support is available for everyone impacted (no matter the degree).

The home base for the Recovery Centre is the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre in Zingel Place Bega and is open from 10.00am – 4.00pm Monday to Saturday.

You can make contact on 6499 2345 or via email at recovery@begavalley.nsw.gov.au.

Accessing the mobile service is another option, especially for those living in our more remote areas.

The Mobile Recovery Outreach Service is open between 10.00am and 2.00pm on the following days:

  • Quaama Hall - Tuesdays
  • Towamba Hall - Tuesdays
  • Bemboka Hall – Wednesdays
  • Wonboyn RFS Shed – Wednesdays
  • Cobargo Hall - Thursdays and Saturdays
  • Eden Log Cabin - Thursdays and Saturdays
  • Bermagui Community Centre - Fridays
  • Wyndham Hall - Fridays

If you still have questions or concerns, contact Council on (02) 6499 2222 or email council@begavalley.nsw.gov.au



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