The rent-free period for community and sporting groups has been extended for another three months.
The rent-free period for community and sporting groups has been extended for another three months.

COVID-19: Cash-strapped groups handed a financial lifeline

THEY'VE been some of the hardest hit organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic and now, in a bid to prevent closures, local community and sporting groups will have their rents waived for another three months.

Coffs Harbour City Council has extended its emergency rent-free period to run until September 30.

At this week's meeting, councillors also voted that its commercial and airport tenants would be assessed for waivers on a case-by-case basis depending on the impact the ongoing pandemic is having on their businesses.

This latest rent waiver will however put further strain on the council's ability to provide services, as it is estimated that the revenue loss could be from a minimum of around $52,000 to around $275,000.

"While some public safety restrictions have been eased by the NSW Government and have allowed many local businesses to reopen - and we're seeing some very encouraging numbers of people choosing Coffs Harbour for holidays and breaks - no one can be in any doubt that this crisis is continuing to bite hard," Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Denise Knight said.

"So anything further council can do to help the community is welcome."

Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Denise Knight said there was “no doubt” the Covid-19 crisis was continuing to impact on local businesses and organisations.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Denise Knight said there was “no doubt” the Covid-19 crisis was continuing to impact on local businesses and organisations.

In April, councillors had voted to introduce the rent abatement period for all council-managed properties impacted by the pandemic after fielding several calls and emails from struggling locals.

The council earlier this year also implemented a Local Business Support Plan to support the local economy. The measures included:

- Encouraging everyone to buy local and support local business #buylocal #supportlocal

- Applying loan repayment relief for existing loans to community groups

- Council buying goods and services from local businesses

- Amending Council's 'Rates, Charges and Fees - Financial Hardship Policy' to apply to non-residential properties

- Suspending new debt recovery actions for outstanding accounts where financial hardship is evident

- Extending the due date for the first rates instalment from 31 August 2020 to 30 September 2020

- Removing account keeping fees, late and reminder fees and credit card surcharges

- Deferring the 2020/21 Special Rate for city centre businesses and associated infrastructure works to the same value.