Rates relief for bush fire-impacted ratepayers

RICHMOND Valley Council is proposing several measures to ease the financial burden on residents impacted by the ongoing bush fire disaster.

Following the Busbys Flat Road fire, which destroyed 42 homes and 95 outbuildings and damaged a further 57 structures, and now the Myall Creek Road bushfire, which has impacted the likes of Bora Ridge, Bungawalbin, New Italy, Whiporie, Camira Creek and surrounding areas, Council has developed a new draft financial hardship policy designed for residents impacted by natural disasters.

The Draft Financial Hardship – Natural Disaster Policy proposes to defer the due date for payments of Council rates and charges by two years, including withholding of interest on outstanding monies for that period.

A flexible payment plan would then be put in place to support residents to gradually catch up on their rate payments over the following two years.

The draft policy is now on public exhibition for feedback and can be accessed here:

https://richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/exhibition/feedback-sought-on-draft-financial-hardship-natural-disaster-policy/

Submissions will be accepted until 3pm Tuesday 17 December, and can be forwarded to the General Manager, Richmond Valley Council, Locked Bag 10, Casino, 2470, or emailed to council@richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au

You can also make a submission online by filling out the contact form at https://richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/contact/have-your-say/make-a-submission/

General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said Council was also proposing to waive development assessment fees for property owners who wanted to rebuild or repair their homes following the bushfire disaster.

“Under this policy, Council would waive all Council development fees for those properties directly affected by the 8 October and 8 November 2019 Notice of Natural Disaster Declaration,” Mr Macdonald said.

“Given the number of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed, Council has estimated this could total around $285,000 in fees waived.

“The fee relief for development assessment will need to be absorbed by Council’s operational budgets and will have an impact on our operational result, however, this can be spread over two to three years and can be managed within existing resources.”

Mr Macdonald said while many residents were going through the challenging process of cleaning up their damaged property, it was important for Council to provide some certainty for the future when the time came to consider rebuilding.

He said Council was also available to direct any residents to appropriate State and Federal support agencies in the bushfire recovery phase.

“There are a variety of government agencies available to deliver support for residents in the wake of the bushfire disaster, in areas including mental health, animal welfare, financial and legal assistance,” Mr Macdonald said.

“One-off disaster recovery payments and support allowances have also been activated by the Federal Government following the Busbys Flat Road bushfire.

“The best way to access this information is to give the NSW Office of Emergency Management’s Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444.”

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