SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council’s administration panel voted to endorse the first stage of the municipality’s $2 million COVID-19 Community Support Package at the ordinary meeting held in Leongatha on Wednesday May 27, 2020.
The package, created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, aims to help local communities and businesses recover from challenges the crisis has presented.
Costed in the shire’s 2020/2021 draft budget at $740,614, the first stage includes a free influenza vaccination program, community and business grants, waiving of fees and charges, and a new community support services information brochure.
The start of package’s first stage measures is however subject to the shire’s annual budget for 2020/2021 being formally approved in at the next ordinary council meeting to be held in Leongatha on Wednesday June 27, 2020.
A future progress report on the roll-out of the COVID-19 package and on its following developments is expected to be presented to the panel at the August 26, 2020 ordinary meeting council meeting.
Administration panel chair Julie Eisenbise said she was “pleased to see the first stage of the support package take shape.
“The council is proud that due to our strong financial position we are able to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and put measures in place that will support our local community,” she said.
“This crisis has had a significant impact on everyone across South Gippsland and we want to ensure that the right measures are in place to get us back on our feet,” Ms Eisenbise said.
“To do this we are committed to investing $2 million in our local community and in our local economy to help minimise some of the long-term effects COVID-19 will have.”
At last Wednesday’s open meeting, administrator Christian Zahra said the COVID-19 package had been “designed in consultation with council staff and with stakeholders from across the South Gippsland community.
“It has become cliché to say that the current circumstances are unprecedented, but they truly are, and no council anywhere has ever had to deal with a situation like this,” he said.
“The package recognises that the many different groups in the South Gippsland community are affected in different ways.
“We have received some positive responses to the support package from the community as we seek to extend good will and to help meet the needs of local people and businesses,” Mr Zahra said.
“There will be a further report on the COVID-19 measures we have approved and on others that may become apparent in three months’ time, as we certainly can’t be prescriptive for the next six or 12 months.”
Mr Zahra urged community members and business owners who require help because of the effects of COVID-19-related conditions to “get on the ‘phone and ask the relevant council officer what the shire can do for them.”
Administrator Rick Brown made two observations on the COVID-19 package at the meeting.
“The first is that the impact of the coronavirus has differed from municipality to municipality, and our targeted response is there for those who have suffered the most in our shire,” he said.“The second is that the effect of a crisis is to create history, and that in the past the effect has been on individuals, whereas ours has been on small businesses as well as individual ratepayers in our shire.”