Yesterday’s announcement from the NSW Government of a $395 million economic stimulus package to reduce impacts of COVID-19 on local councils has been welcomed by Snowy Monaro Regional Council.
Shelley Hancock, Minister for Local Government, explained that the package is designed to safeguard council jobs, boost infrastructure and service delivery, and trigger economic recovery in local communities across the state’s 128 local councils.
Mayor Peter Beer agreed that this package will give Council more breathing space to adjust structures and operations to better serve their communities during this pandemic.
SMRC CEO Peter Bascomb welcomed this announcement as recognition of the impacts on local government. He said, “As significant regional employers, we are facing challenges to not only continue business as usual but to provide additional support to our communities, so this timely stimulus package will be of great assistance.”
Councils are unable to access the JobKeeper arrangements as they are ineligible but instead have now been offered a new job retention allowance of $1500 per fortnight per employee for three months. This gives even greater operational flexibility during the crisis for staff.
This announcement was also accompanied by key information for our region, with the NSW Government fully funding the $32.76 million increase in the Emergency Services Levy for all NSW councils for 2020-21. This allows councils to redirect funds to critical core services and deliver financial support for local communities.
SMRC CEO Peter Bascomb said, “This is further recognition of the ongoing financial impact our region is experiencing this year with ongoing drought, bushfires and COVID-19. The Bushfire Recovery Program is a key focus for Council and work continues in that space with our affected residents.”