The Hornsby Helps Support Package
Hornsby is helping its community through the COVID-19 crisis through implementing a range of measures that will support the community, community organisations and businesses across the Shire. Council is aware that the community looks to it for leadership in times of crisis and the Hornsby Helps Support Package seeks to both ease the pain and build support around vulnerable communities and businesses. The Hornsby Helps package is estimated at this stage to be $3.483 million dollars.
The Hornsby Helps Support Package, whilst necessary, timely and fair, will have a significant impact on Council’s finances moving forward. The NSW Government’s decision to remove all territory south of the M2 from Hornsby Shire in May 2016 resulted in Council losing $10 million net each year. Therefore, without appropriate government compensation for this action, this support package will provide an additional impact on Council’s ability to continue to provide current levels of service and to deliver major projects in the future.
In the initial stages, the Hornsby Helps Package includes initiatives that focus on relieving the financial pressure on businesses or community groups who make use of Council owned assets. For the period until 30 June 2020, Council has granted full or partial fee waivers, where there is a demonstrated need, for:
- Outdoor dining permits on Council land
- Use of sports and community facilities under leasing arrangements
- Commercial tenants in Council owned properties – excluding telco towers, car parking spaces and Westfield
- Residential tenants in Council owned properties
- Operators of education and care services in Council owned properties (if, and when, they are closed)
- Safety inspections at food businesses that are still open, depending on the size of the business.
How else is Hornsby helping?
Given the current dining in restrictions on restaurants and cafes, Council will take a flexible approach to managing parking in town centres to facilitate the safe pick up of take away food. This will assist our food service businesses in the town centres stay afloat by making it easier for our community to support them. Unsafe parking will continue to be vigorously managed to ensure community safety.
User Fee Refunds
Booking and hire fees for use of community facilities, ovals, parks and playing fields, lighting costs, admission and service fees will be waived or refunded (in full or in part) where the use has not been able to occur due to the current COVID-19 crisis.
When government advice permits the resumption of the safe use of these facilities, the applicable user fees will apply and be based on actual usage of the facility (i.e. seasonal sport use will not be charged a full season rate, instead fees will be based on the amount of days / weeks booked). This approach ensures that facility and service users are not financially disadvantaged by the current COVID-19 crisis.
On application, Council will provide hardship relief for rates subject to the provision of satisfactory evidence of need.
The interest charges on deferred rates will be waived. This approach will be subject to ongoing review. This element of the Hornsby Helps Support Package seeks to support financially vulnerable members of our community.
Connecting Business to Support
Council has established a clearing house Business Support page for information on state and federal government assistance for businesses and is establishing a referral point for capacity building webinars to assist businesses to cope in a highly unstable environment. This approach is designed to make it easier for the business community access critical information.
Council Procurement – Support for Local Businesses
Council will endeavour to use local suppliers where possible and will continue to fast track local suppliers onto its procurement list.
Council will provide immediate payment of local businesses for services rendered (for a limited time). This approach is designed to support the cash flow of local businesses when it is appropriate and in alignment with Council’s procurement policies.
Council relaxes delivery restrictions in response to COVID-19
Hornsby Shire Council has suspended the restrictions on truck movements and delivery times to help local supermarkets keep their shelves stocked. This will ensure, as much as possible, that supermarkets can keep up with shopper demand and reduce the need for panic buying.
Additional service delivery
Council’s library services have increased orders for digital content such as e-books, e-audio and e-magazines to account for the physical closure of the library buildings. Whilst the home library service continues to operate, the library staff are in the process of pivoting their other, non-lending services to an online environment. Service expansions and adaptations such as this are critical when demand increases due to the physical closure of the libraries.
Council’s Community Development Team are also working to link vulnerable community members in need to appropriate support services.