Local businesses which rent properties from Orange City Council will be given immediate rent relief in the coming months, following the Council’s latest response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The latest Orange City Council (7 April) meeting decided unanimously to waive both rent on all Council-owned commercial properties and also waive interest on overdue rates from 1 April 2020 to 30 June. The decision will cost the Council around $131,000 for the three months (including $106,000 for rents and $25,000 for overdue rates interest).
The properties affected by the change include 8 commercial/retail shops, a number of hangars rented by businesses at the airport, and more than twenty locations where outdoor dining licenses produce income.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the Council was setting an example that he hoped others would follow.
“On top of waiving rents on Council-owned business properties, the Council also unanimously decided to encourage local business property owners, where possible, to waive or defer rent for the next three months,” Cr Reg Kidd said. “All local businesses are going through tough times, and anything we can do to help is worth considering.”
“There’s a cost to the council’s ability to provide services of making a decision like this, but we’ve got to weigh that up against any relief we can offer to make sure we have a healthy business community on the other side of this crisis.
“Property owners should be thinking long and hard about how we can shoulder the burden of making sure we get through this. Some property owners may also be under strain as a result of COVID 19 but where there is a capacity to help commercial tenants then that opportunity should be explored.”
Orange City Council Finance Committee chair Cr Joanne McRae said additional steps to help the community through the COVID-19 crisis were being considered.
“Work has been under way on the annual budget for months now, well before the COVID-19 crisis emerged,” Cr Joanne McRae said. “In light of the impact of this crisis on the local economy, we’re considering other measures. The community will get to see the details and have their say once the budget goes up for community comment from 22 April.”
“We’re all in this together. So far, state and federal governments have found ways to assist many sections of the community, but local government seems to be falling through the cracks.
“It was good to see the state government make assistance available to Council-run child care centres. That’s a good start.
“Councils are a key employer in regional centres like Orange and a provider of essential services. It’s important for governments to acknowledge the work of local councils as they continue to offer support to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”