Generous grants are now available from Katherine Town Council to help people get back to work after pandemic restrictions have eased.
Katherine Town Council has received a grant of $639,000 from the NT Government to support job creation and help provide waivers and deferrals of rates for businesses in hardship.
The offer was subject to several conditions including for the money for nominated projects to be spent by September 30 and for council to adopt a concessions policy for commercial ratepayers experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Council was told last night the commercial scheme would complement the council's own rates concession project for non-commercial ratepayers including those operating a business from their private residence.
Council was told it was difficult to calculate the likely impact on council's finances and council agreed to set aside $100,000 from its reserves to fund a possible revenue shortfall.
The funds are to be used to provide help to businesses and organisations, bring forward capital works and undertake new works to stimulate the local economy.
Council plans on spending about $284,000 of the grant on roads and carparks.
Council will offer grants to help businesses and not-for-profit organisations to re-open, even with the cost of mowing or cleaning, putting products in the Visitor Information Centre or public lighting.
Rates concessions grants are also available.
Forms to apply are available from Katherine Town Council.
"It is very nice to have this amount of money available," Mayor Fay Miller said.
"We need the community to be aware of these grants to get them up and going again," Alderman Toni Tapp Coutts said.
"It is a great opportunity for the town and I hope people make the most of it," Alderman Lis Clark said.
The initiatives were developed by the Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development in collaboration with the Local Government Association of the NT.
The Northern Territory is the only jurisdiction to have announced COVID-19 support measures for the local government sector, targeted at helping councils in their efforts to create and strengthen locally-based responses to, and recovery from, the impacts of COVID-19 in their local communities and businesses.
- Establishment of a one-off $7.1 million Special Community Assistance and Local Employment (SCALE) program in 2019-20 to: provide immediate funding to assist with council employment and operating costs; support jobs creation and maintenance opportunities in communities; provide targeted rates relief; and assist with COVID-19-related compliance and management costs.
- Establishment of a $6 million Council Support Package in 2020-2021 to support councils in offering rates waivers and deferrals for commercial ratepayers facing hardship.
- Inviting councils to repurpose approved, unspent grants under the Special Purpose Grants and Strategic Local Government Infrastructure Fund programs for initiatives related to business continuity or COVID-19-related costs.
Ministerial exemptions will allow councils to extend already-tendered contracts with Territory enterprises as well as supplies related to waste management or public health, to 30 June 2021.
Additionally, the commencement of the Local Government Act 2019 has been deferred for 12 months to allow councils, and others affected by the new legislation, time to concentrate on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Katherine council has already suspended rates interest and rates related legal action until June 30.
Council has previously said it was also considering a zero rates increase for the next financial year.
"We are also considering our Hardship Policy in order to assist those who might wish to seek assistance from council in the form of payment of rates by alternative instalments," council has said.
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