A BLANKET waiver on an annual fee imposed on Towong Shire businesses has been implemented in the wake of the devastating Upper Murray bushfires this summer.
Shops and accommodation outlets in all parts of the shire, including those not directly impacted by the bushfires, won't be required to pay a registration renewal fee which was invoiced by council in November.
Councillors unanimously agreed to the one-off non-payment for 2020 at its first meeting since the fires held on Tuesday.
The council would have raised almost $30,000 from the fee with Cr Aaron Scales, who operates the Dartmouth Hotel, declaring a conflict of interest.
In a further act of goodwill, councillors agreed not to charge farmers for a building permit for sheds burnt in the fires subject to certain criteria with rate relief for those who had homes destroyed in the fires also flagged.
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The full extent of the fires in the shire was revealed to the council with 553 properties damaged including 42 homes, 926 hectares of crops, 19,827 tonnes of hay, 34,831 hectares of pasture, 23 shearing sheds, two dairy sheds, 88 machinery sheds and 128 hay sheds.
Public assets damaged include the Corryong tip, Cudgewa playground equipment, recently installed Murray River Road viewing platforms and equipment and sheds belonging to the Man From Snowy River Bush Festival, men's shed and historic machinery club.
"This won't be a short-term recovery. This is going to take years," Towong mayor David Wortmann said.
Council chief executive Juliana Phelps said the impact of the fires was felt right across the shire from those directly impacted and also businesses in other parts which relied heavily on tourism trade.
"It is not necessarily because there were flames lapping at their doors, but more about the tourism and visitation they have missed out on over the Christmas-New Year period," she said.
"It is very difficult to single out businesses which may not have been affected.
"It is a small thing council can do, but $29,000 is a lot in terms of Towong's budget."
She said the lost income could be offset from the $1 million received from the federal government for bushfire recovery.
Ms Phelps said in response to a question from Cudgewa resident Shirley Forest about the prospect of rate relief for those who had lost homes in the fires there were discussions already underway involving the state government.
"What we are trying to do at the moment is do some modelling around how we make that work," she said.
"We actually haven't sent out rate notices for the third quarter.
"It doesn't mean the rates aren't payable, but I felt the last thing people wanted to see in their letter boxes was a rate notice."
Ms Phelps acknowledged the council would also be foregoing revenue for planning permits from the reconstruction of farm sheds.
Basic plans will still need to be submitted for approval.
The council plans to advertise full details of requirements.