Council approves $8.5m Community Care and Recovery Package

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Eligible Launceston businesses will pay no rates for the next six months after the City of Launceston’s Community Care and Recovery Package won unanimous support at today’s ordinary meeting.

The $8.5 million package adopted by Councillors will roll-out immediately to support Launceston’s commercial sector, which has been impacted heavily by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Albert van Zetten said he was delighted his original notice of motion was unanimously supported by his fellow Councillors.

“This ongoing pandemic is negatively impacting all our lives, but through this package the Council is hoping it can do its bit to support our local businesses and hopefully see them all back up and operating at full capacity again once the pandemic is over,” Mayor van Zetten said.

The package includes a range of support and recovery measures, including:

  • A six-month rates remission for eligible businesses
  • 0% rate rise for the 2020-21 financial year
  • Accelerated $40 million capital works programme
  • 0% Cityprom business levy for 2020-21 financial year
  • Rental relief on Council-owned facilities
  • $700,000 business grants package
  • A new Rates Hardship Policy
  • $465,000 in fee relief for business
  • Events and sponsorship relief
  • Community assistance initiatives, including for the vulnerable

Mayor van Zetten said that while the assistance packages announced by the State and Federal governments were targeted on rescue, stimulus and jobseeker payments, the Council’s package was designed to provide help to those business impacted by COVID-19 to recover in six to 12 months’ time.

“There are already a number of opportunities for businesses to help retain staff, receive payroll tax support and the like from the upper tiers of government. Our package will hopefully help all those businesses make an easier transition to reopening once the pandemic is over,” he said.

Mayor van Zetten said that while the Council had no statutory power to compel landlords who received the six-month rates remission to pass on those savings to tenants in the form of rent relief, his message was clear.

“In the Council’s view, Launceston commercial property owners have an obligation to pass on these savings to their tenants,” Mayor van Zetten said.

“It’s our clear and unambiguous intent to ease the pressure on small business and assist in their recovery, whether they lease or own the buildings they operate from.”

The package also includes more than $465,000 in fee relief across a range of categories, including food licencing, on-street dining and ground and venue hire; a raft of measures aimed at helping community groups and clubs.

For businesses adapting to new online markets, a pool of $700,000 has been allocated to support innovation. This support would include grants of up to $1000 for professional advice from an expert panel, and up to $7000 for business to implement online solutions.

Groups that rent Council-owned buildings and facilities would see their rent costs waived for six months, while there would also be support for eligible event organisers who have been forced to cancel or postpone events.

“In addition to the Community Care and Recovery Package, we will also be seeking to accelerate a $40 million capital works program, funded in part by an interest free loan from the State Government.”

Full details of the Community Care and Recovery Package are available on the Council’s website from today.

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