MUCH TO DISCUSS: It’s a full agenda for Somerset Regional Council this week.
MUCH TO DISCUSS: It’s a full agenda for Somerset Regional Council this week.

Biosecurity, rate cuts: Decisions council will make next week

A BUSY week lies ahead for Somerset Regional councillors, with a double meeting next Wednesday.

From 9am, the council will hold its fortnightly Ordinary Meeting, which will be followed by the annual Budget Meeting at noon.

Read on to find out what councillors will be discussing during the week to come.

Rates Petition

Council have received a petition demanding that they ”do their fair share” to help the community recover from COVID-19 by reducing rates by 50% for the next financial year.

The petition, submitted through Change.org, included dozens of signatories, though curiously some of those who signed weren’t even from the Somerset Region.

With rates usually being decided during the budget meeting, council will have to decide this week whether to act on the petition.

READ MORE: Dumping fees piling back on for rural council

Rates Rebate

On a related topic, at the end of the current rating period, there were hundreds of ratepayers with outstanding charges.

Of these, 493 ratepayers have outstanding charges, collectively owing $462,985.12, but did not owe any money from the previous rating period.

Council will consider providing a concessional rebate to these property owners, which would be equal to the discount they would have received if their rates had been paid on time.

Biosecurity Plan

Public submissions have closed on the Somerset council’s proposed Biosecurity Plan for 2020-2025, which maps out council’s strategy for dealing with invasive plants and animals.

Getting feedback from the public was the penultimate step in the seven-stage approval process.

Council will this week decide whether to officially approve the completed plan.

Competitions

With events and gatherings having been impacted by the coronavirus, many planned activities have been postponed or cancelled.

Council will this week be discussing the fate of items such as the Somerset Christmas Lights Competition, and annual Somerset Garden Competition.

READ MORE: How your pooch could win big in virtual pet parade

Budget Meeting

After the ordinary meeting is done, the council will move on to deciding the budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

It will be a complex discussion for councillors, who will need to prioritise funding for projects integral to the region’s growth, while also ensuring residents and business owners can recovery financially from the slew of crises that have impacted the area this year.

Both meetings will be closed to the public, due to current limitations on public gatherings.

Audio will be streamed online for those wanting to listen in from home, and the minutes will also be available online.