A support package to help alleviate the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on local businesses and the community was put forward by Coffs Harbour Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight, at tonight’s Council Meeting and adopted by Councillors.
“This unprecedented situation is having a devastating economic, social and emotional effect on the whole community,” said Cr Knight. “To see so many businesses having to close their doors as measures come into force to help minimise the spread of Coronavirus has been nothing short of tragic.
“I don’t believe anyone would argue with the reasons behind these seismic changes to our daily lives – to try to stop the spread of this potentially deadly virus – but at the same time, it is currently a very, very difficult situation.
“But we will get over this. We will come out the other side. And we, as a Council, want to do what we can to support local businesses – and by extension the whole community – by giving them assistance to come through this in as robust a position as possible.
“This is why Council has adopted a raft of positive actions that we hope will give businesses a financial helping hand to weather this crisis.”
Council is already working with local businesses to offer support, information, practical resources and advice on funding through a ‘Local Business Support Plan Phase 1’ – with the aim of helping them stay in business. (See attached Plan).
Councillors acknowledged this ongoing work and also adopted a series of additional measures including:
- Encouraging everyone to buy local and support local business #buylocal #supportlocal;
- Amending Council’s ‘Rates, Charges and Fees – Financial Hardship Policy’ to apply to non-residential properties;
- Suspending new debt recovery actions for outstanding accounts where financial hardship is evident;
- Removing account keeping fees, late and reminder fees and credit card surcharges;
- Council buying goods and services from local businesses;
- Deferring the 2020/21 Special Rate for city centre businesses and associated infrastructure works to the same value; and
- Providing loan repayment relief for existing loans to community groups.
A further report will be presented to Council in due course that addresses more options to assist local small businesses and community groups including rent relief for leases and licences of Council-managed premises and waiving of fees for small/local business related inspections.
Further down the line, a Recovery Plan will be developed for the whole Coffs Harbour community which will focus on broad business and organisation recovery across multiple sectors that will augment available Federal and State Government programs and strong advocacy with other levels of government.