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Port Macquarie-Hastings Council introduces coronavirus relief measures

Assistance available: The council has introduced relief measures for businesses and community members impacted by COVID-19.
Assistance available: The council has introduced relief measures for businesses and community members impacted by COVID-19.

If you are struggling financially during the coronavirus crisis, the council's relief measures could assist.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will waive or defer the payment of a range of fees and charges for up to six months for community members and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The measures include waiving interest on rates and charges, waiving food shop inspection fees and waiving credit card surcharge fees.

There is the option to repay outstanding rates and charges by periodical payments on a payment arrangement when the applicant is in financial hardship due to the impacts of COVID-19.

They are just a sample of the financial relief measures available.

The council will work with businesses and individuals on a case-by-case basis.

Mayor Peta Pinson said the relief measures demonstrated to the community that the council was prepared to take the necessary measures to assist where possible.

"The ripple effect for people in our community is so far reaching and I just don't believe there is anyone in our community that is not being touched or affected by this medical crisis," she said.

Cr Pinson said individuals and businesses would be treated on their particular set of circumstances.

"We acknowledge people have lost their jobs and people are hurting," she said.

"We are also aware there are many people still making their payments and we are grateful for that because the rates are part of the way the council is able to deliver infrastructure for the community."

The mayor encouraged people to look on the council's website and call the council for assistance.

The council will establish a COVID-19 Recovery Working Group, with general manager Craig Swift-McNair as the chair, to bring together community leaders to discuss how to recover from the COVID-19 health crisis, economically, socially and culturally.

The Tendering Local Preference Policy will also be amended for six months.

Non-financial support programs and initiatives will be offered to the community, businesses and events.

Cr Rob Turner endorsed the collaborative process to reach the relief measures.

Cr Justin Levido said the relief measures were very broad but also very targeted in the assistance the council was able to give and it went to the limits of what the council was able to do.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said the relief measures were just the first step and there would be further steps along the way.

Cr Sharon Griffiths put forward an amendment in a bid to make it easier for people to access the relief measures but the amendment was lost.

Director Rebecca Olsen said it was certainly the council's intention through the staff recommendation and conversations with staff to make the process as flexible and easy as possible.

She said the council recognised the myriad of circumstances which people could be in.

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