In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic the City of Karratha Council held a Special Council Meeting on March 30 and endorsed support packages for ratepayers, small businesses and community groups or associations.

Like the rest of the world, our community has been impacted by the rapid spread of the coronavirus and the associated restrictions put in place to mitigate this unprecedented public health emergency. We therefore considered it important that we act as swiftly as possible to provide assistance where we can to those experiencing financial hardship.

We have established a network of City officers whose task is to provide one-on-one support to small business to provide advice and information on the State and Federal grants and programs available for those affected by the pandemic.

We have waived the rent for small business tenants of City properties for a period of six months.

We have modified the City’s Financial Hardship (Rates Relief) Policy to provide increased debt write off for individuals and small businesses.

We have allocated $100,000 to establish an online portal and social media advertising campaign to encourage spending at local businesses, and we will offer lenient and compassionate terms to City debtors.

We will actively seek and implement opportunities to spend additional City resources on local suppliers and contractors over and above what is currently budgeted.

We know community groups and not-for-profit organisations are struggling too, so we have allocated $250,000 to a newly established Community Group Assistance Fund to provide grants of up to $25,000 per community group or association so they can continue to provide valuable services to our community.

Council have committed to freezing rates and existing City fees and charges in 2020/21 and to defer the collection of rates for three months to November 2020.

Together, these support packages will cost the City approximately $3 million dollars in costs and forgone revenue. Council is closely monitoring the situation and will consider further support measures at this month’s Ordinary Council Meeting.