The COVID-19 Fee Relief Program 2021-2022 will waive registration and permit fees for food, registered premise and accommodation businesses, and eligible commercial leases.
It will also not charge interest on overdue rates and charges or debtor accounts for the 2021-2022 financial year, including prior year arrears. The required funding will come from Council’s accumulated surplus.
Mayor Ruth Gstrein, who was not present for the discussion or the vote because of a declared interest, later said Council was very aware of the effects coronavirus closures have had on local businesses.
“Councillors and staff are talking with business owners every day. We are listening to their stories and helping in every way we can to connect them with local, State and Federal government support programs.
“A lot of businesses across the Shire have had reduced earnings because of the restrictions and the COVID-19 Fee Relief Program includes a number of ways Council can help lessen the cumulative toll of repeated lockdowns.
“There are also a lot of extra demands on business operators, with QR codes, COVIDSafe plans and other safety measures. This program will mean they have one less thing to worry about.
Cr Gstrein said the COVID-19 Fee Relief Program will provide about $200,000 in relief for businesses.
“Council is committed to supporting our communities as they move on from COVID,” she said.
“These waivers are one way to helping the businesses that are vital to those communities.”
Manager Environment and Emergency Lyall Bond said Council developed the COVID-19 Fee Relief Program in response to residents’ and business owners’ needs.
“The proposed fee waivers will help eligible businesses stay open and continue to meet registration requirements under state legislation and Local Laws for the 2022 calendar year,” Mr Bond said.
“It also applies to hospitality business Local Law permit renewals and new registrations.
“Council will also suspend and waive rental payments for commercial leases for those businesses which hold a commercial lease with Council and are eligible under the State Government Commercial Tenant Relief Scheme Act 2021."