Friday, 13 March 2020

Lismore City Council withdraws plan to increase rates due to community backlash and concern over potential COVID-19 economic impact

The discovery that Southern Cross University campus at Lismore had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus in early March 2020 and news that weeks before that a number of workers on the Pacific Highway upgrade had also been exposed, indicates that this virus is now in the Northern Rivers region. 

LIsmore City Council took that into consideration, along with the impacts of recent drought and bushfires, at its ordinary monthly meeting on 10 March 2020.

The Northern Star, 12 March 2020: 

Lismore City Council will be withdrawing its controversial plan to increase rates by 24 per cent over four years, partly due to growing concern over the impact of coronavirus. 

The council last year decided to apply to IPART to implement a staggered increase of 7.5, 9.4, 3.9 and 3.2 per cent over four years to fund an infrastructure and roads backlog. 

But after community backlash and further lengthy discussions within council, councillors voted in favour Tuesday night to withdraw its application to IPART. 

The fear of coronavirus, mentioned by community members and councillors, was added to the list of reasons why many people considered imposing the rate rise was the wrong decision for the region. 

Councillors also discussed at length the usual concern about the financial burden on ratepayers, the ongoing recovery from natural disasters and the low-socio-economic demographic of the region. 

Councillor Nancy Casson, who put forward the motion to withdraw the IPART application, said unless the council acted smarter, a significant rate rise would hike up the amount of homelessness and create further financial hardships on ratepayers......

According to the NSW Dept. of Health there have been 78 cases of COVID-19 in the state as of 1pm on 12 March 2020.

Out of these cases, 3 people died and at least 4 have fully recovered, leaving est. 71 people still infected.

A further 11,040 people have been tested for COVID-19 and been excluded, while another 1,181 people are under investigation in the state.

Media reports state that Australia-wide there have been 140 cases since the start of the virus outbreak.

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