President's Pen - Cr Manning

Published on Thursday, 9 April 2020 at 8:00:00 AM

How the world has changed since the March President’s Pen. Once a bustling tourist hub welcoming all and sundry, our little Shire is now self-isolating as part of the Wheatbelt region.

I realise that the community is anxious to know what steps the Shire is taking to deal with the consequences of COVID-19. You will already be aware that the Shire offices, Library, Museums and Visitor Centre have been closed to the public although services are still being provided by phone email and online.

Last Tuesday the Council met to discuss what actions the Shire should take to address the financial impact on the the community of measures taken by the Federal and State governments to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

It was acknowledged that members of our community are suffering significant hardship. A number of local businesses have had to close particularly in the hospitality sector. Many businesses rely on visitors and they have been badly affected by the travel restrictions between the regions in WA.

Our Acting CEO provided Council with a number of actions it could take to alleviate this hardship including:

  • Not increasing rates,fees and charges for the 2020/2021 financial year;
  • Removing interest charges on outstanding rates;
  • Removing the administration fee and 5% interest charge where rates are paid by instalments;
  • Offering a 5% discount to ratepayers who pay their 2020/2021 rates in full; and
  • Adopting a new COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy to assist those ratepayers experiencing difficulties in paying rates and service charges due to COVID-19.

Council will consider adoption of these measures at the Special Council Meeting on 14 April 2020 which will be live-streamed to the public. At the same meeting Council will consider the establishment of a COVID-19 working group consisting of a number of Councillors. Its job will be to continually monitor the situation, meet regularly, instigate administrative measures and make recommendations to Council as required. It will be focused and able to move quickly to respond to the changing situation and challenges presented by the pandemic.

This is my last President’s Pen. I would like to thank my fellow Councillors and administration staff for their support over the last six months. It has been a privilege to serve the community as a Councillor since June 2018 and as President since October last year. I wish you all the very best for the future and, particularly at this time, that you keep well.

Message from the President

Cr Manning

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