Rate relief, paying pet registration and why some shops remain open are among the questions that Northern Grampians Shire Council are fielding as many of its staff work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Council staff have also taken on deliveries for meals-on-wheels, replacing the volunteers who normally visit people in their homes.
A shift to Google cloud computing, completed in 2017, has allowed council staff to keep delivering services to ratepayers with no loss of full-time jobs.
"Most of the enquiries we've had since our customer services offices have been closed are concerning paying bills, especially because animal registrations are currently due," Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Murray Emerson, said.
"We've also had calls with people asking why some shops remain open while others are not, and calls about rate relief from households and businesses."
Cr Emerson said that depot and maintenance staff were adhering to social distancing and hygiene protocols.
"As our staff have been able to continue their usual duties during the pandemic so response times to enquiries have not been severely impacted," he said.
"Staff are able to respond to queries as they normally would but from home rather than in the office."
The council was able to shift a majority of its workforce off-site with minimal disruption when the COVID-19 lockdown was introduced and face-to-face services were shut down.
Essential services to the community have been maintained and no full-time staff have been laid off, stood down, or redeployed due to the flexible work arrangement.
Two positions, a trainee at the Stawell Sports and Aquatic centre and a part-time project manager with Opportunities Pyrenees, Ararat and Northern Grampians, have however been lost.
Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor, Murray Emerson, said the online services mean that people can still conduct business with council.
"From rates, animals, and roads to waste, planning and other services, a lot of business with council can be done via our website," he said.
"If you can't find what you are looking for online, our customer services team are still in the office and ready to help over the phone or via email anytime."
Cr Emerson said he was proud of how the council staff had managed to shift to working from home and maintain high customer service levels.
"Council has not had to layoff or stand down any staff at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic due to the flexible working style and digital-first mindset we have implemented over a number of years," he said.
"Most council staff have been able to either continue with their regular work from a different location with many working from home or are still operating within their position descriptions but from an emergency management perspective rather than a business as usual approach."
"Thanks to our use of cloud computing, we've been able to react quickly to the restrictions and changes established by the state and federal governments to be able to continue to provide almost all our services to the public."
"The only major changes we've had to make is our meals on wheels clients are being cared for by council staff instead of volunteers at this time and depot and maintenance staff are adhering to the mandated social distancing and hygiene protocols."
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