Win for City of Greater Geraldton residential ratepayers - GRV locked in and council considers discounts

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Liam BeattyGeraldton Guardian
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City of Greater Geraldton council offices.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton council offices. Credit: Dominique Bayens/The Geraldton Guardian

The City of Greater Geraldton is considering offering residents a discount on rates, of between 3 per cent and 10 per cent, for the next financial year with the aim of ensuring funding for essential services.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said a revenue slump meant the City was facing an economic crisis.

“The City wants to create as little debt as possible during this economic crisis but we’re exploring the option of a local government loan,” he said.

The WA Treasury Corporations recently announced a record-low interest mechanism to alleviate cash-flow pressures due to COVID-19.

Local Government Minister David Templeman said the new loan mechanism would give local governments a valuable tool in managing their liquidity through this crisis.

“A consequence of the necessary social-distancing measures in place is that many local governments will receive less revenue,” he said.

Mr Van Styn said the City had already pledged to join the West Australian Local Government Authority and freeze rates for the next financial year.

“The City’s issue right now is how to ensure funding if people are unable to pay rates this year,” he said.

“That’s why the City is considering offering a 10 per cent discount on rates to residents who pay in full by the due date.”

He said the City would prefer to not take out a WA Treasury loan but was exploring the idea.

The discount was discussed at the council’s ordinary meeting on April 28 with the aim of ensuring the early collection of rates and avoiding disruption of services.

Mr Van Styn said council would make a final decision on rates at the June meeting.

He also said while rates would not rise, some farming and mining sites which were revalued yearly on unimproved value might end up paying more.

“Residential ratepayers’ gross rental value will not be changing so they will not see rates rise from the previous year,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Templeman recently exercised new powers to prevent ratepayers suffering financial hardship being charged interest on overdue rates.

“Residential and small business ratepayers will need to demonstrate hardship to their local government to qualify for this,” he said.

“This is a difficult time for everyone and all levels of government are working together to alleviate the impacts.”

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The print edition of this story, published in today’s Geraldton Guardian (City dangles 10pc rates sweetener) stated a discount on council rates had been passed at the City of Greater Geraldton’s ordinary council meeting on April 28. This was incorrect. As clarified in the above story, the idea of a potential discount was discussed at the meeting, but was not passed and council will make a final decision on rates at the June meeting.

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