City Council develops pandemic impact and recovery strategy

Mayor Martin TBW Newsgroup
COUNCIL RESPONSE: Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin encourages the community to visit the newly-established Our City. Our Response online portal.

A SPECIAL meeting was held by Mount Gambier City Council on Wednesday night to consider a number of measures and endorse a strategy focused on supporting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first meeting held by electronic means, elected members addressed a number of matters, to help the community get through the hardship and prepare the city to be in the best possible position when the pandemic is
over.

A multifaceted strategy was developed – which will fall under the banners of “our people”, “our economy” and “our recovery” – which included significant steps towards supporting the economy and the immediate endorsement of a series of rent waivers for a range of council tenants.

“In response to the unprecedented situation being faced by our city, council has taken swift action to introduce a broad strategy offering vital support to our people and economy now and into the future as we look towards the recovery phase,” Mount Gambier Mayor Lynette Martin said.

“Elected members resolved to waive the equivalent of one year’s rent for all community and sporting tenants and to provide specific support to our tourism tenants in the first instance,” Ms Martin said.

The measure also included waiving maintenance charges for sporting clubs and council agreed to review any future tourism tenancy rent on a monthly basis from July 1 until the end of the current public health emergency.

“Council has a range of community, sporting, commercial and semi-commercial tenants that occupy facilities under varying rental arrangements and it is important that an equitable approach is taken when dealing with these,” Ms Martin said.

Commercial tenants will also be supported, with council authorising rent waivers on a case-by-case basis upon application.

These measures are expected to cost council around $130,000.

In addition, council will undertake a detailed budget review and will offer support to property owners experiencing financial hardship and finding it difficult to make rates payments.

“Those who may be struggling to make ends meet at present are encouraged to contact the council’s rates officers to discuss their options,” chief executive Andrew Meddle said.

The “our people” aspect of the strategy includes the convening of a community response round-table and establishment of an online portal where the community can seek COVID-19 information and what it means at a local
level.

“The Our City, Our Response community portal acts as a central hub to assist people to be informed and understand what the impact of the virus means for our residents,” Ms Martin said.

“It is important that council reinforces the advice from other tiers of government to limit any confusion and hopefully provide some clarity for our community during this challenging time.”

The portal is updated regularly and seeks feedback about how residents are being affected by current circumstances.

“The information gathered through the portal will help to inform how council can partner with residents and local organisations to lead the way to recovery,” Ms Martin said.

The “our recovery” component of the strategy focuses on rebuilding the economy, reactivating spaces and events and investing in the city’s people.

“Local Government has a big role to play when it comes to keeping the local economy afloat at this time and when we reach the recovery point,” Ms Martin said.

“Our aim is to support the economy through continued investment in infrastructure, projects and most importantly our residents.”

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