The coronavirus will leave south-west councils millions of dollars short with the impact of the outbreak and lockdowns set to be felt for years to come.
It has so far blown a $2.5 million hole in Warrnambool City Council's budget this financial year and Corangamite Shire expects it to leave it $5 million short over the next five years.
Warrnambool's lost income amounted to $3.5 million which was offset by $1 million in reduced costs but it warns this could grow if the shutdown went further.
Mayor Tony Herbert said the impact on council's finances would probably be felt for a decade or more.
He said the council had experienced a "considerable" loss of income but it was trying to minimise the impact as much as possible. "Council's not going to sail through this at all," he said.
Cr Herbert said all non-essential capital works were being reviewed but a number of projects that were funded largely by state and federal grants would likely still continue.
The mayor said that in his opinion it would be wrong to defer projects like the Reid Oval and new library with the bulk of funding which had come from state government already spent, and council's contribution was not needed for another 12 to 18 months when the economy would probably be in need of stimulation.
He said there was a fine balance between preserving the cash it had and providing much-needed jobs.
Cr Herbert said the council was still in the "survival phase" and it was looking at what impact rate and animal fee deferrals would have on the budget.
"We're trying to be as responsible as we can while being conscious that people are really finding it tough," he said.
And while staff from closed council facilities are being redeployed, the council said some faced being stood down without pay.
"Council will also consider increasing staffing to handle hardship inquiries," it said.
"If staff cannot be redeployed, they will receive five days of special leave after which they are required to take annual leave or long service leave.
"If they have no personal leave they will be stood down without pay."
Closures have hit council facilities such as the art gallery, AquaZone, the city's indoor sports stadium, Archie Graham Centre, saleyards and the library.
Last week councillors also voted to temporarily waive car parking fees.
$5 million hit over five years
Moves to reduce the coronavirus impact on Corangamite could leave the shire's budget $5 million worse off over the next five years, mayor Neil Trotter said.
The council has already announced it would delay interest on rate bills and forgo any rate rises next financial year while redirecting $2.5 million in the budget to help offset the economic impact.
Cr Trotter said the lost rate revenue for next year alone would add up to $400,000 but over the next four or five years the compounding effect of all those measures could mean a drop of $5 million in council revenue.
"It leaves a legacy for any incoming council. It's a concern for us," Cr Trotter said.
About $2.5 million would be reallocated from other projects - such as tourism projects - for use in a potential stimulus package, but no decision had been made on what that might look like.
"It could be a project or something like that," Cr Trotter said.
"We've got a number of projects down the coast that will probably just get put on hold," he said.
"It's gone from welcoming tourists to saying 'look, please don't come'.
"It's still uncharted territory."
Cr Trotter said there was a fair bit of concern about people travelling along the coast.
He said the council was trying to keep frontline services open, and while some staff were working from home, others had been redeployed.
"We've already had decreases in planning applications. Money's not going to be available and people won't be borrowing and they certainly won't be spending while there's a state of flux," Cr Trotter said.
Corangamite chief executive officer Andrew Mason said the south-west was in a better position than many other regions to weather the economic impact with the agriculture industry as the backbone of its economy.
He said it was probably too early to get a good handle on the financial impact to the council with some areas of council operations having reduced income from closed services.
Shutdowns to impact staff
The impact on Moyne Shire's budget is not fully known, council chief executive officer Bill Millard said.
"We are considering a range of economic support and hardship provisions," Mr Millard said.
In the past week the council closed its caravan parks, waived fees for families choosing not to use its child-care facilities, and expects its commercial rentals will take a hit.
"There is also uncertainty regarding the levels of grants from state and federal governments given that their budgets have been deferred until October," Mr Millard said.
He said the council would "try to maintain workforce levels where possible" but expected the shut downs to impact a number of staff.
"Council believes staff who may be impacted will be eligible for (federal government) job seeker payments and we are currently investigating our eligibility," Mr Millard said.
He said the council had redeployed staff whose workload had reduced because of the virus, citing that caravan park cleaners now worked additional shifts to clean council buildings.
Glenelg Shire Council said it was still too early to determine the financial impact, and any staff members affected by the reduction in council services had been redeployed elsewhere.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.