Port Macquarie-Hastings Council adopts COVID-19 financial relief measures at September 2021 meeting

Helping hand: The council has endorsed financial relief measures to support businesses and residents severely impacted by COVID-19.
Helping hand: The council has endorsed financial relief measures to support businesses and residents severely impacted by COVID-19.

Businesses and residents hard hit by the COVID pandemic will benefit from the council's financial relief measures.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council adopted the relief measures at its meeting on Wednesday, September 15.

The vote was unanimous to waive, refund or defer the payment of specified fees and charges in relation to residents and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 virus and NSW public health orders.

The council's chief executive officer, Dr Clare Allen, has the authority to enter into a formal agreement with an eligible applicant to repay outstanding rates and charges by periodical payments on a payment arrangement.

The arrangement is for applicants experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 impacts.

Cr Rob Turner congratulated staff for the report to the council meeting and for acknowledging the many ways where council could do something to assist the community.

He noted relief measures had been in place in some form or another since March 2020.

Cr Turner said that had an impact on council's revenue but it was a "small price council can pay in order to provide assistance for those in the community who are doing it tough".

"I think the staff have done a really good job in breaking this down and looking after people who need our help," he said.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said the council had certainly kept on the front foot regarding COVID right from the beginning in 2020.

Community leaders from all areas of government, industry, the education sector, business and social services joined a COVID-19 Recovery Working Group in 2020 to map a way forward for the Port Macquarie-Hastings region.

COVID-19 recovery and stimulus projects were adopted in August 2020 to help the area recover from the health pandemic.

The latest suite of relief measures are in response to the community impacts stemming from the further lockdowns.

The Sydney lockdown continues to hurt businesses in the Hastings, particularly those reliant on tourism.

Many businesses closed or reduced services in line with the regional lockdown which started on August 15.

The stay-at-home order lifted in parts of regional NSW, including Port Macquarie-Hastings, from Saturday, September 11.

A further report to review the relief measures will come back to the November council meeting.