Gingin juggles Covid-19 relief measures pre Budget

Local Government Minister David Templeman says residential and small business ratepayers suffering financial hardship due to the pandemic will not be charged interest on overdue rates in 2020-21. File picture

THE Shire of Gingin like all local governments is juggling financial hardship relief measures for residents and small businesses while trying to minimise the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on its 2020-21 Budget.

When councillors meet tomorrow the shire’s Covid-19 hardship policy and other pandemic-related matters are on the agenda.

Yanchep News Online asked if it would be easier for the shire to budget for a zero increase in rates for 2020-21 as Gingin was not part of Landgate’s recent revaluation program, which the statutory body said had resulted in gross rental values for metropolitan properties on average being reduced by 13 per cent – the first time in 20 years that the average gross rental values for metropolitan properties had been lowered.

A Shire of Gingin spokesman said this was correct for the GRV revaluation as they happened every three years but was not correct for the UV revaluation, which occurred each year.

“As such there will be issues regarding the rates with the UV properties but the total amount of rates raised will be the same,’’ he said.

The shire’s April minutes said it wanted to make provision in the 2020-21 Budget for a reduced installment interest rate of 2 per cent and installment charge of $0 for 2020-21 rates and a reduced penalty interest of 5.5 per cent on outstanding rates.

On May 8 Local Government Minister David Templeman said residential and small business ratepayers suffering financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic would not be charged interest on overdue rates in 2020-21 but that those ratepayers would need to demonstrate hardship to their local government to qualify.

Mr Templeman also said the maximum interest rate payable by all ratepayers had also been reduced.

The Gingin spokesman said all the above factors would have financial effects that would need to be budgeted for.

“Council is receiving an agenda item covering the interest payable for rates, etc. at the council meeting tomorrow within the item prepared to deal with the COVID-19 matters.’’

He said it was still the shire’s plan to budget for a zero increase to fees and charges for the 2020-21 financial year, which the April 7 minutes said would result in a revenue reduction of $5000.

The plan for a zero increase in rates and charges does not include those set by other state government agencies.

In April the council resolved to reduce rental payments by 50 per cent to commercial tenants of council properties for a three-month period (April, May and June) with Guilderton General Store one business asking for rent relief.

The rent relief the shire has provided to commercial tenants has so far cost the shire $24,000.

Councillors will decide whether to stop or continue the rent relief at tomorrow’s meeting.

The April minutes also said hooding the parking meters at the Guilderton foreshore car park and removing the requirement for payment of parking fees, would result in an estimated loss (under normal conditions) of $52,000 if hooded until December 2020.

But the shire spokesman said this initiative was tied to the regional border restrictions.

“While the border restrictions were lifted late May, the hoods were not removed until after the WA Day weekend.

“It was not the intention to have the meters hooded until December but rather would cost the council $52,000 if hooded until December.’’

Originally the chief executive officer was not due to present a further report to the council until July 21 but it has been brought forward as the restrictions have been withdrawn earlier than expected.