THE South Gippsland Shire Council has released another $235,000 from its COVID-19 Community Support Package, leaving a further $504,000 to be distributed from the $2 million fund.

  • There’ll be $77,971 for an extension of Rental Relief and Fee Waiver program at Council owned premises for up to four months from September to December 2020.
  • There’s $126,000 to provide one-off grants, equivalent to 50 per cent of the annual maintenance grant for Council recreation reserves
  • And $40,000 to support a Shop Local advertising campaign

The shire has already rolled out a range of initiatives under the support package including making immunisation free, providing a further $83,000 in community grants, $133,000 to businesses that were forced to close their doors, it didn’t pass on the additional landfill levy of $150,000 to ratepayers, refunded business registration fees, waived street trading costs, extended rates payment terms to 44 people and supported arts and other community service initiatives.

Council support

Administrator Rick Brown said the program had already achieved a lot.

“I am personally gratified by this report and gratified because it actually gives an example of the extent to which we have been able to support the community both the residential community, and the business community at this time of great challenge for all of us.

I think it’s particularly pleasing, for example, that a number of programs that we’ve initiated have been successfully completed, and that they include programs like the flu vaccination program, which benefited 829 people, which I think is quite important, quite significant.

“I’m gratified at the range of community groups, we’ve been able to assist; the Rotary Clubs, men’s shed groups, sporting clubs and the like, the service clubs and a number of service providers like the Salvation Army, community houses, local theatres etc.

“While at the other end other end, at the business end, I think it’s quite important that we have been able to provide some support for shopfront businesses, cafes, sporting and gift stores and health and beauty stores.

“And I think that the staff and the council ought to be highly commended for their commitment and their dedication and without which we would not have been able to achieve what we have. I think, also, it’s great that we have been able to be of assistance to business by paying our accounts quickly. And the fact that over 90% of businesses are being paid within 14 days I think is a credit to those in finance and administration.

“So, while this is a time of challenge for everybody, I think that it is useful that we have been able to provide assistance to people, and that will continue to do so where we can. And I hope that the assistance we have been able to provide basically gives people heart at this time of trouble.”

Administrator Christian Zahra also supported providing additional funds from the package, noting how hard business and individuals had been hit by the pandemic.

“We will continue to be flexible in how we respond to the need,” he said, especially supporting the ‘Shop Local’ promotion initiative.

“There is tremendous willingness within the local community to support local business,” he said, encouraging council to also do what it could to support local business as it came out of the latest restrictions.