Tamworth Regional Council today made a late concession to developers in a coronavirus relief scheme finalised on Monday, but one councillor thinks it should consider doing more for existing businesses.
Councillor Glen Inglis told the extraordinary meeting TRC should give serious thought to rate relief in next year's budget, even at the cost of service cuts.
Councillors earlier today signed off on the COVID-19 relief scheme, which is designed to soften the blow of the coronavirus crisis on the city's residents and business.
Under the scheme, motorists will enjoy free parking in the CBD, council will waive various fees and charges to ratepayers, and roll back business regulations for the period of the lockdown.
And in an amendment added at Monday's council meeting, developers that find it impossible to sell land will have water and sewerage charges put off until they can.
Ratepayers will also be essentially allowed to put off paying council rates and charges, interest free.
In an interview Councillor Glenn Inglis told the Leader TRC staff need to prepare an option for a zero rate increase for next year's budget.
No increase would mean rates would impose a relatively smaller burden due to inflation.
"I'll wait till I see the consequences of it, but obviously I'm of a mind (to consider rate relief)," he said.
"Every bill that we can make a bit less, it's got to help clearly."
Rate relief would likely mean a reduction in service levels for a period of time, he said, but he said rate relief is what Tamworth businesses and residents want.
Mayor Col Murray said he would have "reservations" about not increasing rates.
"We can't ever get (a zero increase) back unless we get a special rate variation, so I think we've got to be really careful about how we consider rate increases," he said.
"I think it's more prudent for council to think about other measures which might give the short-term relief we're actually seeking to achieve, but in a more sustainable way."
Mayor Murray called on the community to bring forward more ideas about how council can "soften the blow" of the COVID-19 lockdown.
"We are working night and day almost on what can or can't be achieved by council," he said.
"We've always got to remember the quantum of revenues that we receive in the form of taxes limit seriously our capacity to provide stimulus."
"Almost every day there's new concepts - not all from within council but some from members of the community as to how to soften the blow."
Councillors signed off on the scheme unanimously.