WHAT will life be like for Port Macquarie-Hasings residents and businesses on the other side of COVID-19?
Port Macquarie-Hastings Couuncil will consider proposed relief measures to support severely impacted residents and businesses, from specific provisions for rates and charges to non-financial support, at its meeting on Wednesday, April 15.
The measures proposed around rates and charges would still meet the legislative requirements, while providing support and assistance to the community, the report said.
The provisions for rates and charges are proposed with a focus on working with affected businesses and individuals on a case-by-case basis.
But, any financial relief will impact council's financial position.
"However despite this, it is recognised that the challenges facing our community are significant and the impacts will be ongoing for a period of time, therefore it is considered appropriate for council to act as best it can to these circumstances," the report said.
The report also outlines non-financial support programs and initiatives with a business support program and community support program.
Staff will work with key stakeholders to discuss ideas and initiatives which will form part of a medium-long term recovery plan.
How do we help keep business ticking?
Council's general manager Craig Swift-McNair spoke with The Port News about the role the council could play.
It remains unknown when the government will lift the restrictions in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Swift-McNair said: "How do we in the meantime keep everything ticking, business-wise, as ticking as we can, what does it look like in six months' time, and if we do end up with a staged relaxation of everything, what does that mean for us?"
He said there will be marketing campaigns and tourism campaigns at the right time, and of course, what we are saying is don't cancel your holiday, postpone it.
Mr Swift-McNair said the council would ensure it continued to process commercial development applications and do that as quickly as possible.
The council will continue with Support Local PMH campaign to encourage people to spend their money locally.
The council is also having conversations around its procurement about how to give more locals an opportunity to do business with the council, within legislative requirements.
A Local Preference Policy is already in place.
There will be a continued commitment to the council's "on-time payment policy" for local business.
Peta Pinson will put forward a mayoral minute at the council meeting on COVID-19 financial support.
The mayoral minute calls on the federal and state governments to urgently deliver comprehensive and multifaceted financial support and stimulus packages to local government to enable it to continue to operate effectively and provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am calling on councillors to support the local government sector's campaign for assistance in dealing with the health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," Cr Pinson said in the mayoral minute.
"Council is already suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent drought and bushfire disaster.
"I am recommending that we support the campaign, which is being coordinated on behalf of the NSW sector by Local Government NSW (LGNSW) and at a national level by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)."
Council meeting goes digital
There are some changes as the April council meeting goes ahead as a digital "Skype" meeting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting on Wednesday, April 15, will start at 5.30pm as a "virtual" meeting, broadcast through the council's YouTube channel.
Councillors will not be in the council chambers.
Mr Swift-McNair said the health and safety of councillors, council staff and our community during the health pandemic must be the top priority.
"To minimise the health and safety risk to those in the council chamber, only essential items will be on the agenda, with scheduled non-essential items moved to a future meeting," he said.
"Whilst residents are unable to attend the meeting due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will be streamed live, and a recording made available on council's website as soon as practical following the meeting."
There will be no public forum section but residents can make representations to councillors in writing on matters on the agenda by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting councillors directly using the contact details on the council's website.
Any information provided will assist councillors in their decision-making capacity on those agenda items and representations must be received no later than 4.30pm on Monday, April 13.