Strathbogie Shire Council

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Waiving of fees helps during pandemic

Waiving of fees helps during pandemic

Initiatives to help Strathbogie Shire businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic are helping to ease the financial burden.

Mayor Cr Amanda McClaren said the initiatives were recognition that drought, fires, storms and the pandemic had taken a huge toll on businesses.

“In our 2020-21 Council Budget, we have proposed up to $320,000 of support for businesses and have asked our Council staff to work closely with businesses to work out what would most practically help them in this most difficult of times,” she said.

“However, we have also introduced a number of more immediate measures to be able to assist businesses, which include an extension of the due date of the fourth instalment of Council rates to 30 June 2020 (instead of 31 May 2020) and no overdue/outstanding interest to be added to accounts for the period from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

“One which has immediately been welcomed is that we are refunding any previously paid fees for this financial year to become a registered premise, which includes food business, hairdressers, etc.

“As part of our draft Budget, we are proposing that this same fee will not be charged in the 2020-21 financial year.”

The move has been welcomed by Euroa’s Fare Enough Café owner Bibby Simmons.

“At the moment it all helps,” Ms Simmons said.

“It is a huge benefit to us not to have to worry about next year’s premises fees as well.

“We haven’t closed the business at all and remained opened since this began but we are still paying bills and purchasing things in - this is coupled with a 60 per cent decline in business due to COVID-19.”

Ms Simmons has run the business in Euroa for seven years and said COVID-19 was providing challenging times for small businesses.

The small café in Euroa relies on both local trade as well as passing travellers.

“In the summer months it is a bit of everything with locals coming in as well as travellers,” she said.

“In winter is more the local community that we see.”

She said she was forced to put all staff off during the pandemic, apart from a casual and a junior staff member.

“I also have a staff member doing some book work for me,” she said.

The café sells coffee and homemade baked goods and curries and scaled back its menu and tried to ramp up its take-away meals.

She said it was fortunate she had diversified the business in the months leading up to COVID-19 to provide a take home meal service known as ‘Heat and Eat”.

“Customers can come in and grab meals from the fridge and take them home to heat and eat,” she said

“Or we have found some of our customers pre-order and then come and collect the meals when we are closed so they don’t have to be around other customers.”

She said she was hopeful she could reinstate all her staff once the pandemic was over.

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