By Jackson Russell –

Mitchell Shire Council will waive an abundance of fees to support residents and businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Employment opportunities across Mitchell Shire will also be bolstered through the State Government’s Working for Victoria initiative, which will see a range of recovery roles supported for six months.

Mitchell Shire Council was successful in attracting $3.8 million through the fund, which will translate to 74 full-time roles and one part-time role across the shire to support business and community recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

The roles cover a variety of positions, skills and experience from cleaning, business support, administration, finance, human resources, project management, outdoor operations, grants writing, training and cultural heritage.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Plan, adopted unanimously by councillors at the May council meeting last week, includes measures to increase tourism as Victorians start to look closer to home for their holidays.

For the 2020-21 financial year, council will waive pre-application planning fees and public land hire fees.

Businesses will also benefit from the waiver of planning permit extension fees, local laws fees including A-frame signs, outdoor dining, displaying goods and roadside trading, and environmental health fees for cafes, restaurants, hairdressers, beauty salons and tattooists.

Council officers estimate the waived fees will save residents and businesses about $230,000.

Up to $50,000 will be directed to a tourism activation campaign, $20,000 allocated to a sign implementation at the Great Victorian Rail Trail, and the council will investigate an opportunity to support an acquisitive sculpture prize of $5000.

The new measures come after the announcement that council plans to provide property owners with payment extensions for all rates charges until September 30 without interest.
Councillors praised the work of acting chief executive Mary Agostino and council staff.

Cr Annie Goble called the plan a ‘fantastic document’.

“A lot of experience has gone into this and what you and your staff have done is remarkable,” she said.

“To have it all down in a document is brilliant because it’ll be a learning experience for the future.”

Following the meeting, Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said as a council, they understood the pressure and the need for services the pandemic had placed on the community.

“Council has worked to create a package to support community and business moving into recovery,” he said.

“I want to thank the council workforce, who have been flexible, committed and who have worked tremendously hard to keep as many services as possible running, our community for their understanding and support and our fabulous volunteers for their efforts during this time.

“We will continue to monitor our situation and adapt as required to support all through this crisis. Recovery will continue to evolve and build on actions and directives of the federal and state governments, so we do not duplicate efforts.”

Mitchell Shire Council is one of 28 councils across the state hiring workers through Working for Victoria so far, as well as other employers across the public and private sector.

People in the shire who have been impacted in the workplace from the pandemic crisis are encouraged to register with Working for Victoria at
Mitchell Shire Council acting chief executive Mary Agostino said COVID-19 has had an immense impact on the community.

“We know businesses and employees have been extremely hard hit by this pandemic. I’d encourage people who are looking for work or looking for workers to use Working for Victoria to explore opportunities and explore options that will open up across our shire,” she said.