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Rates relief extended for property owners hit by bushfires

Michael Weaver16 July 2020
RFS fire truck in driveway of Moruya home as bushfire approaches.

Bushfire approaches Moruya on the NSW South Coast on New Year’s Eve 2019. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

The owners of homes, farms and businesses affected by the past summer’s bushfire crisis will have a full year of rates relief after the NSW Government extended the offer for another six months.

Residents on the NSW South Coast, the Braidwood area, west to Tumut and south to Bombala will be able to apply through Service NSW for a further six months of rates relief if their home, farm or business property is in a bushfire-declared disaster area.

The eligibility criteria is if your property has been deemed damaged beyond repair by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) or an Emergency Information Coordination Unit.

Residents are not eligible if the only structure damaged or destroyed is an outbuilding on the property such as a shed.

Local councils are not coordinating the rates relief, as Service NSW is working with local councils in bushfire-affected areas to ensure eligible property owners receive the benefit.

Eligible property owners will have their accounts credited with the value of their first and second quarter council rates and will be notified by Service NSW that their council rates have been paid in full for the first half of the 2020-2021 financial year.

Destroyed property from bushfire at Rosedale, south of Batemans Bay.

A property destroyed by bushfire at Rosedale, south of Batemans Bay on 1 January, 2020. Photo: Lisa Herbert.

The extension of rate relief to the end of this year follows the payment of more than $2.4 million in council rates relief to ease the financial burden on people affected by the bushfires.

NSW Deputy Premier and the Minister responsible for disaster recovery, John Barilaro, said the NSW Government is extending council rates relief for eligible property owners affected by bushfires to help them recover and rebuild their lives and businesses.

“In February, the NSW Government announced it was funding six months of council rates relief for owners of homes, farms and businesses whose properties suffered damage beyond repair in the bushfires,” he said.

“Now the government is announcing we will fund a further six months of rates relief for eligible property owners to ensure they can direct more of their finances towards rebuilding their lives and businesses.”

NSW Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the NSW Government is committed to helping local communities recover and rebuild from the devastating bushfires.

“That’s why Service NSW has already paid out more than $2.4 million in council rates relief for property owners in 34 local government areas whose homes, farms and businesses were lost in the bushfires,” she said.

“Importantly, this funding is paid directly to the local council, meaning ratepayers don’t have to pay anything, and it does not cost local councils anything to support these property owners.”

Council rates relief already paid out covers rates notices for the third and fourth quarters of the 2019-2020 financial year. The six-month extension will cover rates notices for the first quarter of 2020-2021, from July to September, and the second quarter, from October to December.

The relief package covers the land rates component and fixed service charges such as waste, sewerage and water, where the amount is included on the council rates notice. Water charges are paid where it is a council-owned water utility. Any eligible ratepayer who has already paid their rates will receive an automatic credit against their account, or they can speak with their local council regarding a refund.

The NSW Government recently announced its unprecedented bushfire support has hit $2.3 billion in funding, with 2500 destroyed properties cleared at zero cost to property owners. Bushfire recovery funding from the government has been distributed through grants, temporary accommodation, clean-up and industry support.

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