Council to consider further $4.18 million in COVID-19 support

Local businesses are in line for a range of further assistance while community clubs and groups could receive added rent relief, as part of a proposed $4.18 million COVID-19 business and community support package to be considered by Council on Monday night.

The proposed package would add to the $12.8 million in relief and recovery initiatives released since March, taking the total value of the Council’s COVID-19 support to more than $16.9 million.

If approved, support for businesses and the community would be extended into 2021 with initiatives targeted at providing further relief where needed, and accelerating the region’s economic recovery.

Other proposed measures include support for outdoor dining and street activation, business recovery grants, an early season opening for Lara Aquatic Centre, and a major new planning initiative aimed at generating new job opportunities in the region.

The proposed package is grouped into business and community initiatives, as follows:

Community support

  • Extension of rent waiver for community and sporting tenants of Council-owned land/grounds and buildings until 31 March 2021 (estimated value $415,000);
  • Early season (October) opening for Lara Aquatic Centre ($110,000);
  • COVID-19 Gender Impact Analysis ($30,000);
  • Improved community digital access ($25,000); and
  • Development of guidelines towards establishing community gardens ($20,000).

Business support

  • Food registration fee waiver for 2021 ($1.32 million);
  • Planning for Jobs initiative ($885,000);
  • Health premise fee waiver for 2021 ($250,000);
  • A-frame fee waiver for 2021 ($88,000);
  • Alfresco fee waiver for 2021 ($39,000);
  • Town centre activation surveys ($30,000);
  • Short-term parking for businesses ($10,000);
  • Extra funding for COVID-19 Arts, Culture and Heritage Recovery Grants ($155,000);
  • COVID-19 recovery marketing and communications ($100,000);
  • Outdoor dining and activation initiatives (up to $200,000);
  • Business Recovery Grants (up to $500,000)

The proposed $885,000 Planning for Jobs initiative aims to fast track planning, streamline processes and support projects that will generate employment.

It would enable the City to allocate more resources to create faster planning approvals for small business, and an expansion of the existing ‘business concierge’ service to help guide applicants through the approvals process.

It would also see strategic land use planning for major employment precincts in the Avalon Corridor and North East Industrial Precinct brought forward to allow development of those precincts to happen sooner.

Initiatives related to outdoor dining and activation, including the Alfresco fee waiver, would potentially be funded through the $500,000 available to the City under the Victorian Government’s Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package.

Separately, the City’s CEO (under delegation from the Council) has already made the decision to:

  • Provide ongoing targeted rent relief to tenants in Council-owned buildings beyond 30 November; and
  • Extend the interest waiver for ratepayers on payment arrangements under the COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy until 30 June 2021.

Monday night’s council meeting will be streamed live online from 7pm. Click here to read the meeting agenda.

NOTE: All recommendations in the meeting agenda are subject to amendment and none are final until endorsed by the Council.

A full list of support measures previously announced by the Council is available here.

Mayor Stephanie Asher:

The Council is acutely aware of the crippling impacts the ongoing restrictions have had on local business, and the significant health and wellbeing challenges being faced in the community.

Although this week’s easing of restrictions has brought optimism, our region still faces a very long road to recovery.

Throughout the pandemic the Council’s top priority has been to support local businesses and community members doing it tough through targeted measures.

Monday night’s meeting gives us a further opportunity to do this. We look forward to discussing the proposed package.

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