An Ordinary Meeting of the Bega Valley Shire Council will be held remotely via Zoom on
1.1 Urgent business - COVID 19 Financial Support........................................................................... 4
08 April 2020
1.1 Urgent business - COVID 19 Financial Support..................................................... 4
Council 8 April 2020
Cr McBain, Mayor
1. That Bega Valley Shire Council calls on the Federal Government and NSW Government to urgently deliver comprehensive and multifaceted financial support and stimulus packages to local government to enable them to continue to operate effectively and provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. That (Council) calls for the packages to include the following measures:
· Increasing Financial Assistance Grants payments to 1% of GST revenue to help councils maintain essential functions and services, acknowledging the increased costs and mounting revenue losses arising from COVID-19, drought, bushfire and floods as well as giving Council capacity to provide hardship assistance to businesses and residents.
· Immediate financial assistance to support Council employees, especially in early education and care.
· Providing stimulus funding to Councils for projects that will help sustain Council operations and boost local economies. This could be achieved through increasing or bringing forward funding under existing funding programs or introducing new programs.
· Increased access to TAFE, VET and other apprenticeship opportunities that staff can undertake to address skill shortages, especially for staff in non-essential services who are unable to be redeployed.
3. That Bega Valley Shire Council commends the NSW and Federal Governments on their stewardship during this crisis and commits to working in partnership to protect community health and sustain local economies through this crisis.
4. That Council write to the local Federal Member Dr Mike Kelly and State Member The Hon Andrew Constance, the Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP, NSW Premier the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, Federal Treasurer the Hon Josh Frydenburg MP, NSW Treasurer the Hon Dominic Perrottet MP, NSW Local Government Minister the Hon Shelley Hancock MP, Federal Minister for Local Government the Hon Mark Coultan, Federal Opposition Leader the Hon Anthony Albanese, NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay MP, Federal Shadow Minister for Local Government Jason Clare MP and NSW Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren MP to confirm their support for increased financial assistance and stimulus funding for local government to help councils maintain essential services and employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. That Bega Valley Shire Council endorses Local Government NSW’s sector-wide campaign to obtain financial assistance, employment support and stimulus funding for the local government sector.
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.
Bega Valley Shire Council is is already suffering the consequences of drought, the Black Summer Bushfires, and floods and now with the COVID-19 pandemic there are further impacts both on our community and our organisation.
As Councillors are aware we have significant funding impacts and gaps already from our works in responding and recovery related to the bushfires and floods. A separate report in today’s business paper covers some of these imposts and staff are currently working to further detail potential budget and service impacts also arising from the COVID-19 pandemic imposts.
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).
Bega Valley Shire Council is struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19 and compounding financial impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19. Our Bega Valley community is facing considerable hardship across the entire Shire following the drought, fires and floods. We are having to refocus our recovery issues to support families who have lost their homes remotely, we have a priority of getting people into appropriate accommodation prior to winter and to see the clean up progress. Easter and the school holidays were to be a period for some of our small business and tourism businesses to make some gain against the excessive losses of summer. Our forestry, aquaculture and agriculture sectors are all suffering.
Council has faced increased costs from the clean up, make safe and response and recovery activity and now the challenge of working in a different mode and still providing essential service es to the community. At the same time, we are experiencing declining revenue as more and more ratepayers are forced into financial hardship and due to the support package put together for fire affected properties and all water rate payers. We are planning on additional waiving of interest and some other charges. The impacts are rapidly escalating.
We are doing everything possible to provide support and deliver the services needed to protect community health and keep our communities running during these difficult times. The wellbeing, safety and livelihoods of our communities, customers, and staff is our top priority. However, if additional assistance is not provided, Council may be forced to cut services, infrastructure maintenance and staff. Some recent announcements impact Council particularly relating to early childcare services. Local government is specif8cally excluded from the current package exposing this Council to considerable costs whilst we endeavour to keep centres open to support the children of essential service workers.
It is critical that the local government sector receives adequate funding and resources to coordinate and deliver the goods and services needed as we navigate through, and recover from, natural disasters and the new challenges presented by COVID-19 and its massive impacts on people and our local economies.
Council needs urgent financial assistance from the Federal Government and NSW State Government to maintain infrastructure, services and employment as well as funding to give councils the capacity to provide hardship assistance to the community.
The measures listed below would be effective and simple to implement:
· Increasing Financial Assistance Grants payments to 1% to help councils maintain essential functions and services, acknowledging the increased costs and mounting revenue losses arising from COVID-19, drought and bushfire as well as giving councils capacity to provide hardship assistance to businesses and residents.
· Immediate financial assistance to support council employees, especially in early education and care.
· Providing stimulus funding to councils for projects that will help sustain council operations and boost local economies. This could be achieved through increasing or bringing forward funding under existing funding programs or introducing new programs. Existing Federal funding programs include the Roads to Recovery, Bridges Renewal and Road Safety Blackspots programs. State programs include Fixing Local Roads, Fixing Country Bridges and the Stronger Country Communities programs.
· Increased access to TAFE, VET and other apprenticeship opportunities that council staff can undertake to address skill shortages, especially for staff in non-essential services who are unable to be redeployed.