Expanded virus relief package approved


A SUPPORT package worth over $6 million has been set aside by Frankston Council to deal with the local financial fallout from COVID-19.

The measures taken to provide relief to businesses during the pandemic include an extra $450,000 for the Invest Frankston business grants program, $130,000 worth of rent relief to businesses operating in council owned buildings, $40,000 for the development of loyalty programs and marketing campaigns for local businesses, and the waiving of kerbside trading fees.

Council says it will also provide “rate relief to the value of $1.2 million” to residents, including a $200 waiver for eligible owner-occupier ratepayers receiving JobSeeker. Legal action to recover outstanding rates will be ceased, and extra funding will be provided to increase checks on rooming houses and the elderly. There will also be $30,000 made available to help students buy materials. 

Community Support Frankston will receive $300,000 for emergency food or equipment to be purchased through local suppliers.

The package offers support to the arts industry through $20,000 in funding for an arts collective for artists, writers, and filmmakers to create pieces reflecting on the effects of the pandemic. A $52,000 grant program has also been established to provide mentoring to those looking to get into the arts industry.

The community grants program will receive an extra $500,000 in funding, and sporting club tenancy and ground allocation fees have been waived until September.

Frankston mayor Sandra Mayer said “we have been speaking to our business community to better understand how we can help.” 

“Council is acutely aware of how job losses are affecting the city and has allocated $1.68 million for the redeployment of staff,” she said.

“Council is a major regional employer, and more than 60 per cent of our workforce live locally. We therefore have a direct responsibility in minimising the impact of job losses.  That’s why the package incorporates opportunities for our employees whose normal activities are unavailable. They are being redeployed to work that is vital to the recovery effort.

“We have worked tirelessly on this care package, to ensure the community is looked after, particularly those residents who are at greater risk due to financial restraints and social isolation. “

To make up for the additional spending, council has deferred allocated spending on a number of local projects to a later date. They are:

  • Young Street Public Toilet – $300,000
  • Boulevard Tree planting – $205,000
  • Belvedere Community Centre – $100,000
  • Upgrade of lighting within the Frankston Visitor Information Centre – $20,000 
  • Upgrade of the Visitor Information Centre signage to incorporate LED messaging – $20,000
  • Building Upgrade – Frankston Visitor Information Centre – $41,000 
  • Mountain Bike Track Design and Construction at Overport Park – $27,000 (total project cost reduced to $223,000)

Cr Mayer said council “remained committed to delivering its $61.07 million capital works program”.

“Getting our community through this tough time and addressing our residents’ immediate needs is our priority. 

“Although some projects have been necessarily deferred, they have not been cancelled. We are committed to delivering them as soon as we possibly can.”

Council approved the ratepayer funded care package on 11 May. They had originally supported a package worth around $3.37 million in March, but expanded it to $6.43 million at their most recent meeting.

First published in the Frankston Times – 18 May 2020

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