KINGSTON Council has approved a five per cent rate cut for residents.
Council’s draft annual budget for the 2020/2021 financial year had suggested that rates should be raised by 2 per cent, but councillors moved to change that at their 13 July meeting.
The mayor Georgina Oxley said the decision was made to reduce rates because “there are people and businesses struggling through COVID, and with the increased numbers and restrictions we have seen people struggle even more, so it’s important we support them.”
“What we passed was a necessary adjustment for a five per cent rate reduction from this year’s advertised budget,” she said. “We have received a lot of feedback from the community. At our meeting I spoke about a number of people who had contacted me, and their stories have been really heartbreaking. They feel as if they can’t come to us and ask for support, so I feel we had to offer that support. It is important for them to feel like they can come forward and ask for assistance.
“We have been discussing this move for the last couple of weeks, working through the numbers so we can deliver this and still deliver our high levels of service.”
It is understood council will lose out on around $6.3 million by reducing rates. Cr Oxley told The News that the cut would mean that some of council’s capital works projects would have to “be reshuffled and delayed”.
“We will be working through any projects that need to be delayed, but we need to support residents now. Part of that support though will be how we move through the recovery period and the end of restrictions. We still need to be able to provide local jobs to local people, so we will need to continue our capital works projects, which employ local people through construction.”
Councillors met for over an hour before the budget was adopted with a unanimous vote.
The rate reduction will be in effect when residents receive their next rate notices, which is expected to be in August.
*This article was amended on 16 July. The five per cent cut is a reduction from the total rates bill in this year’s advertised budget, not last year’s budget as printed.