The Greater Geelong council has endorsed a
further $1.5 million in support measures and agreed to a special COVID-19Financial Hardship Policy, as it continues its efforts to help businesses,
community groups and residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest measures add to the $3.4 million package announced in March and
largely focus on providing immediate support.
The financial hardship policy will give businesses and residents who pay rates,
rent, fees and/or charges to the City and are facing tough times as a result of
the pandemic the ability to apply to:
their payments for a mutually agreed period; and
a payment plan for rates that suits their individual circumstances.
The new policy also confirms that the City has stopped referring outstanding
debts for debt collection and is waiving interest on all debts from 14 March
until 31 October 2020.
Councillors highlighted that the policy includes the following opportunities:
- Waiver of penalties for late payment of pet registration fees and the
option to enter a payment plan;
- The City’s commercial waste customers can suspend, cancel or amend their
collection service without penalty; and
- Event organisers can be refunded any associated fees or charges paid to
the City where the event was cancelled or closed due to government COVID-19 directions.
Anyone wishing to discuss their options under the policy is invited to email [email protected] or call 5272 5272.
Other measures agreed by the council during Tuesday night’s meeting were:
- Allocating $50,000 towards the purchase of fresh food to
support food security in the region;
- Allocating $100,000 to fast track a business case to
build 100 new social housing units in Greater Geelong;
- Allocating $80,000 for a small business online training
- Establishing and operating an Arts and Culture Advisory
Group to help develop targeted support to the arts and culture sector in
response to COVID-19, and providing $20,000 to support this new group;
- Allocating $30,000 to digitise the Heritage, Arts and
Culture Program to support increased access online during the stay at home
direction period and beyond;
- Redeploying staff to the Finance team to help reduce
payment times for contractor and supplier invoices to between seven and 14
- Extending the refund of food and health premises
registration fees from three months to 12 months (estimated value $1.18 million);
- Extending the waiver of rent for community and sporting
groups using City of Greater Geelong-owned land/grounds and buildings from
August until 30 September (estimated value $90,000).
council also supported the decision by the City’s administration to provide
off-street CBD carpark permit holders the option to suspend their permits until
further notice, and to provide 1000 special free all day parking permits to
employees of Barwon Health’s University Hospital.
The council’s contribution to coronavirus relief through the two support
packages so far is approximately $4.9 million.
Further, councillors have asked staff to investigate the following
potential extra support measures and report back with recommendations:
- Suspension of all on street car parking
fees from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2020 (report and recommendation to come
before council in June);
- Waiving rates from 1 April to 30 June
for businesses that have had forced operational closure due to COVID-19
restrictions, with further review in June (report and recommendation to come
before council 28 April); and
- Waiving the Central Geelong Marketing
levy from 1 April to 30 June, with those that have already paid to be given a
credit towards their 2020-21 Rate and Marketing Levy Notice (report to come
before council 28 April).
Council has previously committed to a third
package to be delivered in June, which will be tailored around initiatives that
will assist in the region’s medium- and long-term recovery.
And in line with a Notice of Motion during Tuesday night’s meeting from Councillor
Anthony Aitken, the 2020-2021 Community Grants program has been suspended and
will be re-tailored to focus on providing more support to the region’s recovery
Mayor Stephanie Asher
The council is doing what it can to support the community through this
unbelievably challenging situation.
The measures we’re putting in place are all about providing targeted assistance
where it’s most needed – including to local businesses, community groups such
as sporting clubs, and our arts and culture sector, which have all suffered
The new COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy also aims to help those who most
need it. Importantly, each case will be considered individually, so we
encourage anyone suffering hardship to make contact with our team and have a
discussion about your situation.
Councillor Anthony Aitken - Chair, Finance portfolio
Tonight councillors have demonstrated
leadership by providing additional supports in our community to help people and
business survive and eventually recover after COVid-19. The supports are
detailed and cover a wide range of areas that we believe will help our community
The officers and councillors have all contributed and I look forward to bringing
more supports back to the council chamber to support our community and business
during the most challenging period we have ever seen in our history in Geelong.