Georges River Council's $47 million Recovery Plan

The council's Recovery Plan focuses on economic and social support as they are two vital pillars, if managed effectively, will see Geoges River thrive into the future.
The council's Recovery Plan focuses on economic and social support as they are two vital pillars, if managed effectively, will see Geoges River thrive into the future.

Georges River Council has proposed a $47 million Economic and Social Recovery Plan to meet the needs of the community and deliver services during the unprecedented situation brought about by the COVID -19 pandemic.

It includes a $42 million capital works program, down from a proposed $85 million program, to refocus on essential services.

The Recovery Plan comprises three key phases:

Immediate Support - programs that council has either implemented or proposes should occur immediately to provide immediate support to the community;

Revival - initiatives that either prepare Georges River for a relaxing of restrictions and a full re-opening;

Discover Georges RIver - celebrating the re-opening of Georges River and relaunch of the city.

The council's plan has been developed to complement current Federal and State Government support packages for small to medium sized businesses but does not replicate these.

Georges River Council will be hit with a decline in income of $27 million in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, this should not affect the delivery of the Recovery Plan.

The council is forecasting a drop in GDP of between 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent.

This is significantly lower than neighbouring councils with Canterbury Bankstown down 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent, Sutherland 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent and Bayside (Rockdale down 7.5 per cent to 10 per cent and Botany Bay down 10 per cent to 12.5 per cent).

Georges River Council's results can be attributed to its strong health sector and a resilient business community, the council report on the Recovery Plan stated.

"The council's Economic and Social Recovery Plan aims to support the foundational resilience of our community," the report states.

Under Phase 1, Immediate Support, the council has already implemented a number of measures including providing support to debtors and ratepayers affected by COVID-19 under its Debt Management and hardship Policy.

This includes the partial or full waiver of fees, rents and leases for council's commercial tenants, community organisations and premier facilities, to cost the council approximately $390,500 a month.

Waiving licence and lease fees and charges for all outdoor dining will cost the council $67,000.

Relaxing fees associated with food and public health inspections will cost $60,000.

Relaxing of parking enforcement $945,000.

Initiatives already implemented by the council under phase one of the Recovery Plan include:

Support for Georges River Health Care workers including free parking, the Coffee On Us program and support for the Adopt a Health Care Work program ($15,000); offering the use of council sites for COVID 19 testing ($54,000); providing help packages ($17,000); increased online learning and digital programs for libraries and gallery exhibitions ($45,000); free reservation of spaces at council child care centres ($50,000); specialised planning advice ($10,000); translated material in community languages for food safety and COVID restrictions ($2,000,.

"Most importantly, it is critical to note that Georges River Council is continuing to provide essential services to the community," the report states.

"While many other councils have stopped vital services we will continue to provide essential services without violating social distance laws, for example kerbside collection, road maintenance, compliance, and continuing to open and maintain parks and reserves for our community to enjoy and to reduce stress during this difficult time."

To complement these steps already taken the council is proposing a number of initiatives to support the community.

The council will write off bad debts at an estimated cost of $500,000. It will promote its Buying Local program for local contracts with an estimated cost of $600,000.

Other initiatives include outdoor dining licence fee exemptions, reduction in DA fees for commercial fitouts for a period of six months, faster payment for suppliers and waiving library fees and fines, and providing a dedicated concierge service to triage customer enquiries related to COVID-19.

The Revival phase of the Recovery Plan is being developed to help the community prepare for the revival of Georges RIver both economically and socially once restrictions start to be lifted.

This includes a Recovery Grants and Sponsorship Program of up to $200,000.

The capital works program of $42 million will be allocated to key projects to stimulate the local economy including Penshurst Sporting Hub stage two, Mortdale Shopping Centre streetscape, Ormonde Parade Streetscape, Hurstville Oval Players Pavilion, Hurstville Golf Course, Oatley Park Sporting Amenities, Harold Fraser Oval Waterway, road re-sheeting program,remediation of the former Oatley Bowling Club, and the Poulton Park remediation.

There will be a $100,000 intensive cleansing progam of six town centres; introduction of a library click and collect services ($19,000) and a dedicated council officer to work especially on commercial development applications ($95,000).

Phase 3 of the plan will relaunch the Georges RIver LGA with a number of events, branding and marketing supported by a budget of $400,000.

"This plan is council's commitment to the recovery of our city and the Georges River area," the council's report concluded.

"The plan focuses on economic and social support as they are two vital pillars whcih, if managed effectively, will see Georges River thrive into the future."

The Recovery Plan was endorsed by the council's Community and Culture Committee and is expected to be approved at the May 25 Council meeting.