BENDIGO'S council would introduce eligibility rules for people facing COVID-19 hardship under a plan unveiled in a new draft budget.
The introduction would finalise moves away from the emergency funding needed in 2020 as Victoria dealt with the initial crisis and multiple lockdowns, City of Greater Bendigo corporate performance director Andrew Cooney said.
"That's consistent with what other organisations are phasing into their hardship provisions," he said.
Many people are still facing hardship though, even as the economy kicks back into gear, according to the draft budget unveiled on Monday.
Rules on eligibility were still to be finalised, Mr Cooney said.
"They won't be hurdles that are too big but they will be about ensuring people are actually experiencing financial hardship," he said.
Charges would not be waived but people would be able to defer payments or get help with payment plans.
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The council has budgeted for $275,000 in COVID-19 hardship relief including deferring rates bills and payment plans.
It would also freeze or waive 420 fees and charges. The fees combined would likely be worth $576,000, the council estimates.
"That's pretty significant and includes car parking fees, our swimming pool entry fees and, importantly, the costs for our facilities that get hired by the community," Mr Cooney said.
The council would also spend more than a quarter of its draft $2 million COVID-19 package on help for businesses to do things they might not otherwise be able to do because of COVID-19.
That would be in addition to $265,000 extra for events and $155,000 for tourism marketing, mayor Jen Alden said.
"It's significant funding to attract tourists to the region. We know people are interested in regional tourism and are itching to get out to events," she said.
Cr Alden said that the council would continue monitoring the economic situation as the pandemic ended and be ready to make changes to the budget if needed later in the financial year.
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