Council stands down staff, halts non-essential works
A number of City of Greater Geraldton employees will be stood down from their jobs, parking fees will be abolished and many public toilets closed as part of the council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking after tonight’s council meeting, Mayor Shane Van Styn said those staff would be able to draw on accrued leave entitlements and many could access Newstart support payments or their superannuation.
“The staff will remain employed until the period until the stand down ceases and they will be entitled to go back to their job,” he said.
“But at the point of exhaustion of all their leave entitlements they will be stood down without pay.”
Mr Van Styn said council took the measure after closing the library, theatre, the senior citizens centre, and visitors centre.
“Those staff will be at the forefront of staff being stood down but also as we now will be ceasing all new capital works and all renewal works,” he said.
“It will be project teams that will find themselves idle and will also be required to stand down.”
Mr Van Styn said some public toilets would close.
“Our public toilets are stripped of toilet paper within 10 minutes of being serviced by our cleaners and also a number of those public toilets are being significantly vandalised as part of that process,” he said.
“Additionally some older toilet blocks are not well-designed for social distancing purposes so we need to review those as well.”
Mr Van Styn said he hoped abolishing parking fees would provide a little relief for businesses and their employees.
“We think with the reduction in shops being open there will be less demand on parking and parking fees should always be a way to regulate excessive demand,” he said.
“Where that demand doesn’t apply we need to reduce it.
“It does also mean reducing contact points for disease transmission.”
The announcement came after councillors discussed the item behind closed doors this evening but immediately afterwards released the text of the motion which they passed unanimously.
“It’s a challenging situation that the City doesn’t have vaults and vaults of cash available to prop it up,” Mr Van Styn said.
“If we don’t take drastic measures now and should this pandemic drag on for six to 12 months we need to ensure that we still have the funds available for recovery.”
Mr Van Styn’s video message to ratepayers can be viewed on the City of Greater Geraldton Facebook page.
Helpful sites for coronavirus updates:
- The Geraldton Guardian:Local news and updates
- The West Australian:Live blog and latest reports
- City of Greater Geraldton:Affected city programs, shows and events
- Federal Government: Commonwealth Department of Health
National Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
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