City of Parramatta Council has announced a suite of measures worth more than $3 million to help thousands of local residents and businesses doing it tough due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said Council’s COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Package – endorsed at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 7 April – will help ease the financial burden on the community and support their health and wellbeing.
“This is one of the toughest times our community has ever faced. Everyone from workers to families to business owners are trying to navigate unchartered territory,” Cr Dwyer said.
“But we’re all in this together. City of Parramatta Council has a plan to not only help our staff, residents and workers get through this now, but to bounce back in the future.
“Our $3 million COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Package will help keep people in jobs, businesses operating, our City clean, our cultural life thriving, and some of our most vulnerable safe.”
Most of the $3 million package will be rolled out in the next three months, with Council already delivering a number of measures. The package includes:
For Businesses and Jobs
- Waive licence and hire fees: Council will waive pre-paid and ongoing licence and hire fees for outdoor dining, food stalls, temporary premises, advertising, community halls, parks and community venues for the shutdown period.
- Business grants: Council will provide grants of up to $2000, with a total value of up to $100,000, to support local businesses that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19.
- Buy local: Council will amend its tender policy to support the purchase of local goods and services, where possible.
- Promote local businesses: Council will use its existing websites and channels to promote local businesses still operating during the shutdown.
- Seven-day payments: Council will seek to pay invoices from local, small and medium-sized suppliers within seven days, instead of the current 30 days.
- Support takeaway businesses: Council will relax trading conditions to allow restaurants and other businesses to provide takeaway services.
- On-street parking: Council will provide grace periods and cautions for time-limited on-street parking spaces. Council will also increase the number of short-term parking spots on local streets to facilitate takeaway, pickup and click-and-collect services.
- ePlanning fast-tracked: Council has accelerated its transition to ePlanning – an online system for the electronic lodgement and assessment of planning applications.
For Community Groups and Local Services
- Rent waiver: Council will waive all rents for Council-owned assets which are occupied by community groups, essential services and not-for-profit organisations.
- Community grants: Council will suspend the Community Grants Program and redirect all unallocated funds to support local services and community groups impacted by COVID-19.
For the Community
- Rates hardship: Council will implement payment plans for, and waive interest on, late payments for Council Rates, where ratepayers satisfy the criteria (as set out in the Rates Hardship Policy).
- Community services: Council will continue to adjust its services to maintain support for the community’s most vulnerable, and connect residents with essential social and financial services.
- Online services: Council will accelerate its transition to online services to improve remote community access.
- Cleaning: Council will increase its cleaning services in high-traffic public spaces, including more regular cleaning and sanitisation of public water stations, bins and amenities.
- Support for casuals: Council will continue to pay casual staff for up to four weeks after the relevant services or facilities have been shut down and seek to reallocate them to other services.
- Investment in technology: Council will invest up to $100,000 in hardware, software and audio-visual technology to enable remote meetings, including Council Meetings and Councillor meetings.
- City of Parramatta is also considering a range of initiatives to support the City’s recovery from the crisis, including accelerating “shovel-ready projects”, and reviewing development application and planning priorities.
“We know people are doing it tough and we’re listening,” Cr Dwyer said.
“The groundwork we do now will ensure that, as a community, we can recover faster. Australians are resilient people and I have no doubt that we can get back on our feet quickly.”
Cr Dwyer said he has been amazed by the dedication of medical staff and stories of goodwill during the pandemic.
“At times like this, it can be hard to remain hopeful. But I have been overwhelmed by the huge outpouring of support I have seen from members of the community to help those in need – including many Council staff,” Cr Dwyer said.
“In particular, I’d like to thank our local doctors, nurses and healthcare workers for their immense efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Thank you to staff at the Westmead Health Precinct and all our health facilities, for their incredible efforts to keep residents of Parramatta and the rest of Sydney as safe and healthy as possible during this difficult time of global uncertainty.”