Local Disaster Recovery Committee Activated
The Local Disaster Management Group, chaired by Mayor Cr Glen Hartwig, met today to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed the group will continue to stay at ‘Lean Forward’ status, however endorsed the activation of the Local Disaster Recovery Committee.
The Local Disaster Recovery Committee is council-lead and oversees all facets of recovery following natural disasters, or in this case, COVID-19. Given the nature of this pandemic, the main emphasis of recovery will continue to be economic and social recovery.
A specific economic recovery sub-group will be established under Local Disaster Management Arrangements and will focus on working with industry, the business community and government agencies to support the region’s business and tourism sector get back on their feet. The existing Human/Social Recovery subgroup will continue to support vulnerable residents and the community with links to assistance such as counselling, domestic violence support and homelessness services.
The Local Disaster Recovery Committee, chaired by Deputy Mayor Cr Hilary Smerdon, will work with not-for-profit, industry and government services across the region to ensure a coordinated approach is available to those in need.
“We are very concerned about the impact that COVID-19 will have on our community and we know that recovery is going to take a long time,” said Cr Hilary Smerdon. “We need to take our hats off to our residents and businesses for the way they have handled the pandemic so far, but we know people are still hurting and we want to make sure we can help connect our community to the support that is out there.”
The committee and sub-groups will involve community and business leaders in recovery planning and implementation, and develop local solutions to COVID-19 impacts on our communities. The committee is also tasked with ensuring the region is well positioned to apply for and deliver recovery projects funded by the state and federal governments.
“I know we’re a tough lot, but if you are struggling, get some help. The saying is true; it’s okay not to be okay, we just want you to be in a good place for you, your family and your community.
There are many moments in life that stand out for all of us. Last week was one for myself when during the ordinary meeting on Wednesday, councillors were told by the Acting CFO,
“When Council adopted its budget for the 2019-2020 financial year, it forecast insufficient cash reserves at years’ end to maintain business operations.”
This comment stopped me in my tracks as we were never told this information, at any stage, during our budget deliberations for the 2019-2020 financial year. To hear this now is both frustrating and more than disappointing. I often use the metaphor of the titanic, but it’s how we as councillors feel and I’m sure how you as residents feel; we knew the iceberg was coming and did nothing about it.
And you’ve got to ask the question, why weren’t we told?
The most frustrating part is that the fallout and repercussions are huge. You can’t get past the basic fact that, had we known and addressed our financial issues back then, we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we are in now where budget cuts are not just a necessity, they are unavoidable.
Councillors continue to work on the budget and look at all options on how we can repair the damage, and we will, but it’s going to take time and we need to earn your trust by our actions.
We are on the right path, and will take another step on Thursday. A special meeting has been called to consider the appointment of a new CEO. And we will announce any decisions made as soon as we are able. There are exciting changes ahead, and a new direction for your Council.