14 February 2020

Bushfire-affected ratepayers in the south east shires urged to access financial relief

| Alex Rea
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Fire-damaged sign in Batemans Bay

The Dunns Creek Road and Ridge Road, Batemans Bay, sign after the fire went through. Photo: Alex Rea.

Owners of properties destroyed by bushfires on the South Coast are being urged to access the NSW Government’s financial assistance for rates payments after ratepayers were sent bills.

The state government announced this month it will cover six months of rates for those who have lost their homes and small businesses in the state’s fires.

Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor Liz Innes said council had no choice but to send the rates notices and welcomed the state government’s help for those who need it.

“Legally, we were required to send those rate notices out last week and that was just cruel in my view and something people already facing devastation didn’t need,” Ms Innes said. “I encourage those affected to contact Service NSW to arrange a waiver or a refund if you’ve already paid.”

The NSW Government has also waived its fees on development applications for dwellings damaged or destroyed in the fires.

The initiatives come from a state government working to boost recovery efforts following the loss of 2400 homes statewide.

Local councils are also introducing measures designed to provide support for residents who need to rebuild.

Bega Valley Shire Council has lowered or waived rates and other charges, including all fees associated with the lodgement of development applications.

Ratepayers in the council area who lost their homes also won’t be charged for water used since the last time their meter was read until a new meter is installed, and a $50 credit will be added to the accounts of customers across the council’s water systems if water use for the current period is more than 10 per cent above the previous three-year average.

Fire damaged water meters and pressure sewer systems will be repaired for free, and BVSC sewerage customers who have lost their homes or businesses will receive a 50 per cent credit on their annual sewer and water access charges.

Other waived fees include those for replacing destroyed library books, tree assessments on bushfire affected properties, and the use of council owned and managed land and buildings from 1 January to 30 June 2020.

BVSC is also waiving waste disposal gate fees for fire-affected material, subject to the NSW Government financing the cost of managing and disposing of the waste.

Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council has a growing program of financial assistance measures for bushfire-affected communities, including a subsidy for DA/inspection fees for rebuilding destroyed homes and infrastructure, and a $470 one-off rates rebate for homes destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.

With $1 million in bushfire assistance from the federal government, QPRC’s assistance package includes subsiding private works relating to dam clearing, waste disposal fees, development application and inspection fees, and rates rebates, as well as a TV advertising campaign to help restore local economies in Braidwood and Bungendore, and financial support for local wildlife recovery groups.

“The Queanbeyan-Palerang community has been heavily affected by the bushfires, with 57 houses destroyed by fire and countless properties suffering extensive damage,” Mayor Tim Overall said.

“The long task of rebuilding these houses and properties has now commenced. We will also focus on the economies of our affected towns and villages such as Braidwood, Bungendore, Nerriga and surrounds that have also suffered from the impact of the bushfires.”

For support and information go to Service NSW Bushfire Recovery and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency.

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