COFFS Harbour City Council has released its six-monthly report till June 2020, which details the detrimental effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Council and lists the development of the West Woolgoolga Sports Complex and plans for a Sandy Beach Reserve youth space among Council’s highlights for the year.
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Council’s Six-Monthly Report-January to June 2020 identifies achievements and challenges (such as the COVID-19 pandemic) during the first six months of the year, and provides updates on Council services, projects and key operational activities.
The report stated that aviation was one of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19, and the profitability of Coffs Harbour Airport had been significantly impacted by reduced revenue as a result of the pandemic.
“Work continues on attracting airline capacity to assist with the economic recovery of the airport and region,” the report stated.
Council’s holiday park revenue also suffered significantly this year following the bushfires in November 2019, the 90 percent closure of Woolgoolga Beach Caravan Park for approximately twelve weeks for a major upgrade at the end of 2019, and the thirteen-week closure of all of Council’s holiday parks due to COVID-19.
“All events have had a direct impact on revenue due to cancellations/refunds and closures,” the report stated.
The report stated the pandemic response and recovery measures would have significant and long-lasting impacts on Council’s financial position.
“The loss of revenue from Council business operations-including the Coffs Harbour Airport and the Coffs Coast Holiday Parks-and the re-allocation of funds towards COVID-19 recovery programs forced the revision of the 2020/21 Consolidated Budget,” the report stated.
Visitation to Council libraries dropped 25.2 percent this year compared to the previous year, with COVID-19 listed as a major factor for this.
Harry Bailey Memorial Library visits dropped by 28 percent, Toormina Library dropped by nineteen percent and Woolgoolga Library saw visitation numbers drop by 22 percent.
The report also stated that COVID-19 had significantly impacted the operations of the Jetty Memorial Theatre, with the cancellation of eighteen hires and shows and a loss of approximately 1500 tickets.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Cr Denise Knight said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and continues to be, a major disruption to all our lives and has had huge impacts on both Australia’s and the world’s economies and our way of life”.
Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath said that remaining focused on local infrastructure and planning projects would help the local economy recover from the COVID-19 shock.
“These types of development activity are vital in providing employment, as well as injecting much-needed cash into the area, particularly at a time in which we’re facing unprecedented challenges,” Mr McGrath said.
The report stated that Council was quick to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by closing public facilities including community halls, swimming pools, playgrounds and libraries, moving Council meetings and the weekly Growers Markets online, initiating a support package for local businesses, and postponing gatherings and events such as the Japanese Children’s Festival and Harmony Festival.
Council achievements for the year highlighted in the report included, the two successful Elton John concerts held in February, winning Awards for the Jetty4Shores development, construction of the Coffs Harbour Airport Enterprise Park, the completion of Polwarth Drive Oval lighting, the undertaking of extensive water, sewer and transport asset works, and the provision of community, economic and sporting programs for residents and visitors.
The report also stated that the Cultural and Civic Space project was on track, and current forecasts predicted the project’s completion in the first half of 2023.
Council’s Six-Monthly Report-January to June 2020 can be found on its website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au.
By Emma DARBIN