Council's measures to support community during COVID-19
Blue Mountains City Council will waive rents for all tenants in Council buildings under commercial agreements for as long as needed, subject to monthly review, given the current COVID-19 crisis.
The organisation is also encouraging other landlords throughout the City to do the same.
Other proposed initiatives – that will go to the Council Meeting on 31 March for endorsement – include:
- Providing payment arrangements for ratepayers and businesses who are experiencing hardship because of COVID-19. Interest penalties will also be put on hold during the period of any arrangements.
- Requesting the Valuer-General to put on-hold the redistribution of rates associated with the most recent three year land revaluation process, currently scheduled to impact rates paid by Blue Mountains residents from 1 July 2020.
- Investigating the possible introduction of a pensioner rebate on domestic waste charges.
- Focusing regulatory activity on education at this time to provide sufficient time to achieve compliance, rather than regulatory enforcement – with greater recognition of the circumstances of people during COVID-19.
- Transitioning the Council’s Business Training & Support Programs from face-to-face to online service provision.
- Implementing further business outreach to support businesses and business owners with recovery information and mental health support.
- Allowing Library books to be kept by borrowers for the duration of the crisis and late fees will not apply, and
- Developing and implementing further online resources for the Library and Leisure Centre services and a range of other online initiatives.
BMCC Chief Executive Officer Dr Rosemary Dillon said the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the community and the local economy, on top of bushfire impacts, had already been absolutely devastating.
“Many residents have lost their jobs or have had their incomes significantly reduced. Many local businesses have had to close down or have had their incomes severely reduced,” she said.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “I support all initiatives as proposed by our CEO. The Council remains committed to supporting the community through COVID-19 and working with other levels of government and key agencies to address the significant impacts on the City of Blue Mountains.”
Key initiatives implemented by the Council to date, in response to COVID-19, include:
- Taking strong action through closure of facilities to safeguard the community and staff.
- Creation of an online portal about COVID-19 on Council’s website to assist our community with up to date information on Council closures, general information and testing, information relating to social distancing etc and an outline of what financial support is already available for individuals and small business.
- Suspending Leisure and Aquatic Centre memberships, including gym memberships, impacted by the closure of the leisure and Aquatic facilities.
- Providing credits for those who had booked Learn to Swim and Tumbling classes that can no longer run.
- Suspending Cultural Centre memberships impacted by the closure of the Cultural Centre.
- Refunding tickets sold up until 1 June 2020 for events at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub.
- Relaxing restriction and movement caps for deliveries to supermarkets to allow delivery of goods to occur 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to service the needs of the Blue Mountains community.
- Relaxing planning restrictions to enable 24 hour operation of supermarkets, and
- Continued business and town “In focus” articles in online and print media – with a Love Local as a way forward: “We need to Love our Locals even more!”
“The Council provides a range of essential services critical to the City and is committed to the continued safe delivery of these services. The Council is also currently implementing its Crisis Management and Business Continuity Plans, with a tailored risk and safety based approach for each service area,” Dr Dillon said.
“It must also be noted that the 2019-2020 rates have already been levied and rating legislation and regulations do not allow for Council to abandon rates and charges that have been levied.”