NOTICE OF Extraordinary Council MEETING
An Ordinary Extraordinary Council Meeting of City of Parramatta Council. This meeting will be held by audio-visual link on Tuesday, 7 April 2020 at 6:30pm.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
8 Minutes of the Lord Mayor
8.1 COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package................................................. 4
8.2 Advocacy for financial assistance to support the operation of Council's childcare centres through the COVID-19 pandemic............................ 9
ITEM NUMBER 8.1
SUBJECT COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package
REFERENCE F2019/03630 - D07355556
REPORT OF Lord Mayor, Councillor Bob Dwyer
The purpose of this Lord Mayor Minute is to endorse the City of Parramatta’s COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package.
(a) That Council commends our local doctors, nurses and health care workers for their immense efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, particularly workers at the Westmead Health and Biomedical Research Precinct and all our health facilities, for their incredible efforts to keep residents of Parramatta and Western Sydney as safe and healthy as possible during this difficult time of global uncertainty;
(b) That Council recognises that COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the community wellbeing and economy of Parramatta, and Council has a responsibility to work with partners to mitigate the social and economic consequences of this pandemic;
(c) That Council approve the COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package, outlined in this Minute;
(d) That Council endorse:
a. the implementation of the initiatives, in paragraph 10 of this Minute;
b. the cost of the initiatives, estimated at up to $0.85M this financial year;
(e) That Council approve:
a. implementation of the initiatives set out in paragraph 11 of this Minute;
b. the cost of the initiatives, estimated at up to $2.18M this financial year;
(f) That Council note:
a. City of Parramatta will seek to identify savings and reallocate resources to minimise the cost of the Relief & Recovery Package
b. the initiatives will be reviewed in June 2020 to assess the need to continue any or all of the initiatives in FY 2020/21.
(g) Further, that Council delegate authority to the Lord Mayor and Chief Executive Officer to exercise the powers of Council between meetings for any urgent or critical decisions to be made relating to Council’s response to COVID-19, and to approve the revised community grants program (detailed in paragraph 11), including reviewing and approving the new criteria, revised program and recipients in accordance with s.226(o) and s. 377 of the Local Government Act 1993.
1. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic.
2. As at 5 April 2020, there have been 5,687 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. In NSW alone, over 120,000 people have been tested and cleared, with 2,580 confirmed cases including interstate residents in NSW health care facilities and 16 lives lost.
3. It is an incredibly challenging time for all of our communities and City of Parramatta Council (Council) is committed to the safety of its community, staff and visitors.
4. This includes taking proactive actions that will benefit our community, and working with many partners across all sectors to mitigate the social and economic consequences of this pandemic, including following the advice of NSW Health and the State and Federal governments in relation to the delivery of services and operation of facilities.
CITY OF PARRAMATTA RESPONSE TO COVID-19
5. Following the outbreak, Council’s CEO convened a Crisis Management Team (CMT) to provide support and guidance through the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. Council has prepared a COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package (Package) to assist Councillors, Council’s management, staff and community to understand how Council will respond to this pandemic.
7. The Council has also developed a framework to assess the initiatives and guide Council’s actions, as we take an iterative approach that allows for adaption and evolution of ideas as the situation continues to evolve.
8. The following key aims have informed the development of this framework and assessment of initiatives:
a. Reduced infection rate across the Local Government Area
b. Financial relief for businesses and/or community members who have suffered as a result of COVID-19
c. Social or cultural benefits for our businesses and/or community members who have suffered as a result of COVID-19
d. Improved health outcomes for our community
e. Support for essential services provided by all levels of government
9. Noting these key aims, and that a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible to address the challenges of this pandemic, Council will deliver a range of initiatives along the following themes:
a. Financial support
b. Jobs and investment
c. Support for our community members
d. Health and Wellbeing
ENDORSE CURRENT INITIATIVES
10. The following is an overview of the key initiatives currently being implemented by Council:
a. Rates Hardship: Council will waive interest on late payments for Council Rates, where ratepayers satisfy the hardship criteria (as set out in the Rates Hardship Policy) – estimated cost of up to $300,000;
b. Rates Hardship: Council will put in place payment plans for late payments for Council Rates, where ratepayers suffer financial hardship and satisfy the hardship criteria (as set out in the Rates Hardship Policy): – estimated cost of up to $450,000;
c. 7 Day Payments: Council will seek to pay all local small and medium suppliers of goods within 7 days – estimated cost is minimal;
d. Support Takeaway Businesses: Council will allow restaurants and takeaway businesses to provide takeaway services even if they do not have relevant approvals for takeaway services - estimated cost minimal;
e. Council Staff: Council will continue to pay casual staff for up to 4 weeks after the relevant services or facilities have been shut down, seek to reallocate casual staff to other service to continue to provide employment and put in place systems and procedures to allow remote working capability - estimated cost is minimal;
f. Technology: Council will invest in hardware, software and audio visual technology to enable remote Council Meetings, remote Councillor, staff and stakeholder meetings and remote working capability - estimated cost up to $100,000;
g. Digital Storybox: Council will accelerate the launch of its digital storytelling public art project designed for the Parramatta Square public domain through a digital platform sharing the rich stories of Parramatta past and present - estimated cost minimal (existing budget).
APPROVED PROPOSED INITIATIVES
11. The following is an overview of initiatives to be implemented by Council:
a. Waiver of Licence & Hire Fees: Council will waive pre-paid and ongoing licence fees and hire fees for outdoor dining licenses, food stalls, temporary, premises, advertising, community halls, parks and community venues for the period of the shutdown – estimated cost of up to $500,000;
b. On Street Parking: Council will put in place a range of measures to provide grace periods and cautions for time-limited on street parking spaces; however, Council will continue to enforce illegal parking to ensure public safety and turn over for short stay parking to support local businesses. Council will also reduce and change time limits in a number of local on street parking locations to facilitate take away services and support local businesses - estimated cost of up to $650,000;
c. Waiver of Rents: Council will waive all rents for Council owned assets which are occupied by community groups, essential services and not for profit organizations - estimated cost of up to $650,000;
d. Community Grants: Council will suspend the annual round of the community grants program and redirect all unallocated funds to support local services and community groups impacted by the COVID 19 Crisis – estimated cost $380,000 (existing program);
e. Planning Approvals Acceleration: Council will identify and prioritise Development Assessments and Planning Proposals to support employment, investment and recovery - estimated costs minimal;
f. e Planning Acceleration: Council will accelerate transition to e Planning (the on line system for electronic lodgment and assessment of planning applications) - estimated cost minimal;
g. Promote Local Businesses: Council will use its existing websites and its new Parramatta Brand to support measures for local businesses including promotion opportunities – estimated cost up to $50,000;
h. Buy Local: Council will amend its tender policy to support the purchase of local good and services, where possible – estimated cost minimal;
a. Cleaning: Council will increase its cleaning services in high traffic public spaces including more regular cleaning and disinfectant of public water stations, bins and amenities – estimated cost $150,000;
b. Business Grants: Council will provide grants of up to $2000, with a total value of up to $100,000, to support local businesses who have been adversely impacted by COVID 19 - (using existing Economic Development Special Rate);
c. Community Services: Council will continue to adjust its services to online and phone delivery to maintain support to the most vulnerable in our community and connect residents with the social and financial services they need at this time – estimated costs minimal;
d. Online services: Accelerate the Council transition to online services to improve remote community access - estimated cost $80,000.
12. Council will also commence work focused on delivery of a package of initiatives for the recovery phase, which will include the development of initiatives to address:
a. Review and acceleration of “shovel ready projects”;
b. Review and acceleration of capital expenditure program;
c. Reopening key facilities & reactivating services;
d. Relaunching events programs;
e. Identifying programs or other economic initiatives to support the Parramatta economy;
f. Identifying programs to get people back to work in Parramatta, with a focus on assisting vulnerable members of our community;
g. Reestablishing and increasing community connections.
13. Council continues to work in close collaboration with government partners, including NSW Health, who are the lead agency responding to COVID-19 in NSW, and the NSW Police Local Area Commanders, on the City’s emergency response.
14. Councillors received a briefing on the City of Parramatta COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Package on Wednesday 1 April 2020 and feedback was taken into account in developing the initiatives outlined in this Minute.
15. Council will continue to communicate changes to the operation of Council’s services and facilities, and the implementation of relief measures, through various channels including online, print and social media. The community can also continue to keep up to date on Council’s response to COVID-19 by visiting www.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au.
FINANCIAL IMPLICATION FOR COUNCIL
16. The initiatives in this Minute have a total cost of $3.03M to Council this financial year. This includes $0.85M for initiatives outlined in Paragraph 10 and $2.18M for initiatives outlined in Paragraph 11 of this Minute.
17. Council will take a flexible approach to funding these initiatives, including identifying savings and reallocating budget, staff and other resources from services and functions that are unable to be delivered in the current climate, and advocating for support from State/Federal/other funding sources to support City of Parramatta’s response plan.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Bob Dwyer
There are no attachments for this report.
ITEM NUMBER 8.2
SUBJECT Advocacy for financial assistance to support the operation of Council's childcare centres through the COVID-19 pandemic
REFERENCE F2019/03630 - D07358577
REPORT OF Lord Mayor, Councillor Bob Dwyer
The purpose of this Lord Mayor Minute is to advocate for Commonwealth and State Government financial assistance, to support the continued operation of Local Government childcare centres and the retention of childcare workers employed in the Local Government sector, through the COVID-19 pandemic.
(a) That Council write to the Prime Minister to request that the Commonwealth Government amend the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper Scheme to include childcare workers employed in the Local Government sector;
(b) That Council write to the Premier of New South Wales to request that:
i. the State Government advocate to the Commonwealth Government to amend the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper Scheme to include childcare workers employed in the Local Government sector;
ii. in the event that the eligibility criteria of the JobKeeper Scheme is not amended to include childcare workers employed in the Local Government sector, the State Government provide commensurate financial assistance.
(c) Further, that copies of the above correspondence be provided to key stakeholders and advocacy groups.
1. On Thursday 2 April 2020, the Prime Minister announced the new Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, a significant change to the childcare funding system, to ensure the maintenance of this essential service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit of these changes is that it makes childcare free for families at this time, when many are experiencing financial hardship and when we need our essential workers available to perform their work duties.
2. The funding package announced by the Prime Minister relies on childcare providers accessing the Commonwealth Government JobKeeper Scheme, in lieu of the fees usually collected from families. Under the Scheme, businesses and not-for-profit organisations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to access a wage subsidy to continue paying their employees. Affected employers will be able to claim a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months.
3. Entities not eligible for the JobKeeper Scheme include the Australian Government and its agencies, State and Territory Governments and their agencies, foreign governments and their agencies, Local Governments and wholly owned corporations of these bodies. The ineligibility of Local Government to access the JobKeeper payments puts at risk the financial viability of Council operated childcare centres.
4. The City of Parramatta Council operates five childcare centres – in Dundas, Ermington, Northmead, North Rocks and Parramatta. The financial implication of the new funding system, without Council being eligible for JobKeeper payments, is a funding shortfall of approximately $1.2 million over the 6 months of the temporary funding system.
5. There are a small number of difficult options available to Council in light of this funding situation. Absorbing the cost is not a financially viable option for Council. Council could reduce and cap the number of children placed within our centres or Council could close down centres.
6. In light of these options, it is essential that local councils have the same access to the JobKeeper Scheme as private sector providers, or for some alternative funding to be secured, to help ensure council operated childcare centres remain open and to keep these vital council staff employed, to support local families.
FINANCIAL IMPLICATION FOR COUNCIL
7. Without access to the JobKeeper Scheme, the cost to the City of Parramatta would be $1.2M to continue operating Council’s childcare centres, over the 6 months of the temporary funding system.
Councillor Bob Dwyer
There are no attachments for this report.