Narrabri Shire Council has released details of what it said could be considered its local “economic stimulus package” to help combat the devastating impacts of the coronavirus.

Council said spending locally has “never been more critical than right now”.

The Ordinary Council Meeting was held on Tuesday at the NSC Chambers with social distancing measures in place.

However, Councillor Annie McMahon raised concerns about the meeting taking place and thought they should only be meeting for “emergency” related matters.

“I’m very concerned,” said Cr McMahon.

“I think it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better”.

The Courier understands that Australian Councils could not legally hold virtual meetings at the time of Tuesday’s meeting.

The council meeting continued and general manager Stewart Todd put forward two proposals relating to Council’s response to COVID-19.

They were both passed unanimously.

“The endorsement of the service delivery and resourcing proposal has enabled Council to place a number of job opportunities into the Narrabri Shire job market benefiting anyone who has recently been affected by Federal and State Government forced closure of services,” said Council’s general manager Stewart Todd.

“Council residents and ratepayers have been affected by the Government shutdowns, if Council can extend an employment opportunity to those affected we need to step forward and provide that.”

The first element of Council’s plan aims to offer immediate additional employment opportunities across the Council to bolster service delivery capability, it’s also offering additional job opportunities and exploring “all redeployment opportunities for current casual employees of Council,” read a statement released by NSC.

Council said endeavours should be made to establish an extended workforce of appropriate size and capability in an effort to ensure critical service delivery is maintained – as close as possible to “business as usual”, bearing in mind the external restrictions in place.

The second element endorsed by Council at Tuesday’s meeting relates to the relaxation of its procurement policy and associated protocols.

The procurement proposal has “immediately placed a high priority” on sourcing locally.

Council said that under normal purchasing the majority of emphasis was placed on the cost of the goods – with the aim of achieving value for money.

“What the Council’s endorsement of this proposal now means is that the already sizable local spend by the Council will be immediately increased,” read the NSC statement.

“On the back of this proposal Council has decided to step in and do as much heavy lifting as it can, by keeping local tills turning over, residents in jobs and local businesses open” added Mr Todd.

“Council has thrown its full support behind local businesses, I urge other large companies and corporates in Narrabri Shire to follow Council’s lead.

“During difficult times such as those currently being faced; the community needs strong leadership, this is what Council’s management team and myself are fully focused on delivering – I thank them and the unanimous councillor support in getting this done for the community.”

A number of councillors thanked Mr Todd for his response.

“I think this shows great leadership by the Council and I’m extremely pleased with the way Council has stepped up to the mark under these circumstances,” said Cr Ron Campbell. “Congratulations to the general manager and the staff.”

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