Rates in the Highlands will be increased by 2.76 percent.
Councillors voted to increase the rates at the Wingecarribee Shire Council meeting on July 8 as part of the Operational Plan and Budget for 2020/2021.
Councillor Ian Scandrett moved an motion to not proceed with the 2.76 percent increase and for the matter to be deferred for 2021.
"It was only reported earlier this week that a report in the [Sydney Morning] Herald that said that more than one million households in Australia are in severe financial stress," he said.
"At a time that our community is battling at all levels, that have been impacted by various events since last year; drought, bushfires and now COVID-19, I think we should defer the rates impost.
"I'm not suggesting we change our fees and charges... but let us have a rate holiday for the next year."
Councillor Peter Nelson spoke against the rate deferral stating that council had to raise its rates to catch up.
"Those rates were increased for five years, then we had the infrastructure catch up, which we've just finished.
"The rates have gone from nine percent down to 2.76 percent.
"I also remember when council didn't raise its rates three years in a row, however the pain came back and we had to raise the rates to catch up because we fell behind significantly.
"That translated in to not being able to do the works that council could've been done."
Councillor Garry Turland also spoke in support of the rate deferral.
"We are now in a situation with COVID-19 that has only hit us since March 23 this year and I think we have a responsibility to try and help by reducing the rate," he said.
"We didn't know COVID-19 would hit us, it wasn't on the cards. When the previous council back many years ago didn't take up the rates that was a different story.
"There was no recession, there was no COVID-19, there was no drought.
"This is not the case for 2020. Every institution is tightening its belt.
"If you think that the small amount to the community won't help them, you're in La La land."
Councillor Larry Whipper also flagged that he would not support the motion.
"It might only be for one year to defer these rates but we just had those recollections from Councillor Nelson which was before my time," he said.
"That rate pegging was deferred as you correctly state and that caused an enormous amount of strain for this community and we had to introduce two hits of rate rises to actually catch up.
"So to pass the impost on to future generations, I can't agree with that."
Councillor Ken Halstead disagreed with Councillor Whipper and said he supported a rate deferral for one year.
"To be quite frank, this is different," he said.
"I actually feel a lot of the local rate payers which I'm sure all of you do in one way or another.
"Quite frankly I support a zero percent rate rise for year and that has nothing to do with elections or what may have happened in the past.
"The fact is, people are hurting - not just the bottom five or 10 percent, it's everybody."
Mayor Duncan Gair spoke against the motion and said it was a "balanced budget under dire circumstances."
"Yes there is going to be increase and it is at a bad time," he said.
"I don't deny it but to put our head in the sand and say 'let's put it away for 12 months' to me is irresponsible."
Councillor Scandrett's motion was put to a vote. Councillors Scrandrett, Halstead and Turland voted for the rate deferral. Councillors Gair, Whipper, Nelson, Grahame McLaughlin, Graham Andrews voted against it.
The motion was lost.
An amendment to adopt the fees was voted on. Councillors Gair, Whipper, Nelson, McLaughlin and Andrews voted for it.
Councillors Halstead, Scandrett and Turland voted against it.
The amendment became the motion and the rate increase was adopted.