Hume offers COVID-19 relief


Laura Michell

Sports clubs, community groups and ratepayers have been given a helping hand, with Hume council waiving fees and interest charges and refunding deposits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At last week’s council meeting, councillors voted to introduce a number of measures designed to ease the impact of coronavirus on the community.

The council voted to waive the ground use fees for sporting clubs until June 30, while community groups will have booking fees and deposits for council facilities refunded.

The council also decided not to charge residential, business and commercial property owners interest on late rates payments. The next rates instalment is due on May 31.

Cr Geoff Porter said councillors had been approached by different groups in the community expressing their concerns about the impact of COVID-19.

“I think it is a great thing council is taking this initiative to say … we are with you,” he said.

“I particularly am pleased… that if people are late with their last instalment of their rates, we are not going to hit them with penalties.

“We are giving people a lot of relief.

[We are] letting our community know we do value them and we are with them all the way during this terrible time.”

The council also approved a small business grants program, which will be included in the 2020-21 budget.

While the program was not developed in response to COVID-19, Cr Naim Kurt said the grants would make a big difference to small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.

“We are living in unprecedented times today with what we are facing as a community, with the pandemic situation and the concerns about our economy as well, and people are looking to government for answers, for information and for support,” he said.

“It is fortuitous that this comes to the chamber tonight just as local businesses are crying out for additional support from government.”

Two grant categories will be created covering business expansion and outdoor dining.

The grants will be available to businesses that employ less than 20 people.

Up to $200,000 will be available in the business expansion category, with individual businesses able to apply for up to $20,000.

The council will make $50,000 available in the outdoor dining category, with businesses able to apply for up to $10,000.