BAYSWATER council has knocked back requests from two charities for rates and rent relief.
Community Housing Limited provides long-term, secure accommodation for people on low to middle incomes, and asked for three properties it rents out to be exempt from rates, saving it $3352 each year.
The local government act says “land used exclusively for charitable purposes is not rateable” but doesn’t define those terms so council has scope to interpret the rules.
That left the request in a grey zone.
“Even though Commercial Housing Limited is a charitable organisation, there is income being generated from the properties and therefore commercial activities are taking place,” staff said in a report recommending the request be knocked back.
Councillors Dan Bull and Stephanie Coates wanted to grant the reprieve but the rest of the council followed admin’s advice and knocked them back.
Meanwhile the Organ Donation and Transplant Foundation WA asked council to waive $5679 in fees for its offices at the city-owned Rise building in Maylands.
The foundation’s CEO Simone McMahon has had to relocate to Brisbane while she awaits a transplant herself, so the charity’s ability to fundraise has taken a battering in her absence.
All the offices at the Rise are filled with not-for-profits, and council staff fear the request may open the floodgates for any struggling charity to ask for a handout.
Given 91 Bayswater families have signed up for organ donation, the report warned feelings may run high and “there is a potential for adverse media” if the request was unsuccessful.
Councillors Terry Kenyon, John Rifici, Dan Bull and Stephanie Coates wanted to grant the rent relief but didn’t have the numbers.
The Voice has heard the council will instead look at a direct donation to ODTF, so as to avoid setting a rent relief precedent.
by DAVID BELL