BUSINESSES renting properties from Orange City Council will be given immediate rent relief in the coming months, following the council's latest response to the COVID-19 crisis.
At Tuesday's meeting, councillors decided unanimously to waive both rent on all council-owned commercial properties and interest on overdue rates between April 1 and June 30.
The decision will cost the Council about $131,000 for the three months, including $106,000 for rents and $25,000 for overdue rates interest.
The properties affected by the change include eight commercial or retail shops, a number of hangars rented by businesses at Orange Regional Airport and more than 20 locations where outdoor dining licenses produce income.
Orange Mayor Reg Kidd said the council was setting an example he hoped others would follow.
"On top of waiving rents on council-owned business properties, the council also unanimously decided to encourage local business property owners, where possible, to waive or defer rent for the next three months," he said.
"There's a cost to the council's ability to provide services of making a decision like this, but we've got to weigh that up against any relief we can offer to make sure we have a healthy business community on the other side of this crisis.
"Property owners should be thinking long and hard about how we can shoulder the burden of making sure we get through this."
Cr Kidd said some property owners might also be under strain as a result of COVID 19 but where there was a capacity to help commercial tenants the opportunity should be explored.
Orange City Council finance committee chair and councillor Joanne McRae said more steps would be revealed in the 2020-21 draft budget in two weeks' time.
"So far, state and federal governments have found ways to assist many sections of the community, but local government seems to be falling through the cracks," she said.
"It's important for governments to acknowledge the work of councils as they continue to offer support to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis."
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