Wednesday, 1 April 2020
Bunbury’s 2020-21 Budget will be prepared on a zero per cent rate increase and include no increases to waste and recycling charges following Tuesday night’s Council meeting.
The CEO will now commence the roll out of a number of immediate relief initiatives to instigate the City of Bunbury’s COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Plan.
Council on Tuesday night unanimously supported immediate action in support of the local community while acknowledging the social and economic impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on ratepayers, residents and businesses within the City.
The City’s Relief and Recovery Plan will outline a series of immediate actions to provide support to the community to deal with these challenges.
City staff and Council will now work collaboratively on the City’s long-term actions to deal with the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and balance the needs of the community with the City’s long-term financial position.
Immediate actions to be implemented between now and 30 June 2020 include:
- The 2020/21 Budget to be prepared on a zero percent increase in rates and no increases to waste and recycling charges;
- Relaxation of rate payment periods for the 2020/21 financial year;
- Suspension of any debt recovery;
- No penalty interest charges to rates and billing charges until 30 June 2020;
- Refunds on outdoor eating fees – backdated to 1 March 2020;
- No street trading fees for new traders – backdated to 1 March 2020;
- Suspension of lease and rental payments for select City owned property – backdated to 1 March 2020;
- Consideration of suspension of lease and rental payments for other commercial leases and licenses upon request;
- Deferral of City secured self-supporting loan repayments;
- A move to digital planning services platform to ensure these services can continue remotely;
- Review of planning, building and environmental health fees to incentivise economic activity;
- Free extensions for development approvals and extending timeframes;
- Waive renewal fees for home-based businesses and occupations;
- Express turnaround for change of use and development approval applications;
- Refund or deferral of all facility infrastructure fees including ground hire fees;
- Advanced notice to local businesses on projects and procurements;
- Install mobile hand wash stations at selected sites in the Bunbury CBD;
- Limit the use of infringements replaced by warning and community education;
- Facility programs and activities to move online;
- Consider the deployment of staff to work with community and volunteer groups.
All these actions will be reviewed following June 30, 2020.
Chief Executive Officer Mal Osborne said the City’s Relief and Recovery Plan was a staged approach with urgent response actions already completed.
“We know that with the COVID-19 pandemic things are evolving quickly, and the situation is changing every day, so while we’ve already taken measures to help protect our community we don’t want to make hasty decisions and jeopardise our ability to fund the recovery,” Mr Osborne said.
“The City is doing what it can to support the people and businesses of Bunbury while ensuring this is done responsibly given the City’s own financial position as a result of COVID-19.
“We know our people are doing it tough and we will be working around the clock to create a better Bunbury on the other side of this.”
As well as these immediate actions the following measures have already been put in place to date:
- Closing of paid ticketed parking in Bunbury until 30 June 2020;
- A dedicated internal Local Recovery Coordination Team from existing City resources to plan and deliver real action to deal with the economic and social challenges facing the City;
- Closing and prioritisation of public facilities in the interest of public safety;
- A full refund or deferment on all memberships and cancelled bookings at City properties and facilities;
- Signage being placed at playgrounds and skate parks advising of closure;
- Flexible payment options for those debtors experiencing hardship;
- Shorter payment terms for creditors (a maximum of two weeks);
- Increasing the City’s cleaning regime to ensure the city is kept as clean and hygienic as possible;
- Amnesty of delivery and operating hours requirements under existing approvals;
- Supporting local business through regulations and free trade to move to take away operations;
- Buy local, support local promotional campaign and advertising support;
- Care for our community promotional campaign;
- Facilitating support for vulnerable groups within our community;
- Donation of perishables and food items to local support services.
Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said Mr Osborne and City Staff had been working hard to put measures in place to support the Bunbury community within the means available.
“This is what we believe our local government can do and these steps will complement those responsibilities of State and Federal government and the banking sector,” Mayor Brennan said.
“The CEO and Executive team will now also be able to make timely and practical decisions in response to COVID-19, thanks to Council’s support of amending its delegation process.
“Council in close consultation with the CEO and Executive will continue to work through the long-term recovery plan to deal with the ongoing social and economic impacts on our City.
“These are uncertain times however I am confident that Bunbury will recover and this community’s spirit and togetherness will endure these challenging times.”