Redland City Council today announced a $2 million plus social and economic package to support Redlands Coast residents, businesses and community groups through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The comprehensive package, approved at a special Council General Meeting, is considered stage 1, and includes:
- Double the amount of time to pay next rates bill
- $288,000 in grants for business and community groups experiencing hardship due to COVID-19
- Working directly with businesses, social enterprises and community groups to help them access State and Federal economic stimulus packages
- Reduced red-tape for businesses and community groups
- Provide one-off contribution towards electricity costs for clubs and associations registered under Council’s community electricity scheme
- Strengthen Council’s local buy preference and fast-track payments
- Expand Council’s Wi-Fi to assist businesses
- Promote, review and update Council’s financial hardship policy to ensure eligible ratepayers can access hardship provisions in relation to their statutory rates and charges
- Seek to fast-track $60 million in Council infrastructure works within the community by taking advantage of potential State and Federal government grants announced.
Redlands Coast Local Disaster Management Group Chair, Mayor Karen Williams, said the COVID-19 outbreak was already having a profound impact on residents, businesses and community groups.
“I am acutely aware that many local businesses have had to reduce their service offering or temporarily close and this is also affecting the livelihoods of their employees,” Cr Williams said.
“Today we have adopted a range of financial and non-financial measures at an urgent Special Meeting.”
Redland City Council CEO Andrew Chesterman said that to provide immediate assistance, all Redland Coast ratepayers would automatically be granted double the usual time to pay their April rates, with the due date extended from 11 May until 11 June 2020.
“In addition, Council will compassionately review ratepayers’ situations on a case-by-case basis and be as flexible as possible in extending arrangements during the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
“Council’s Financial Hardship Policy, adopted last November, will also be promoted, reviewed and updated to ensure all eligible ratepayers affected by COVID-19 are aware of, and can access, hardship provisions in relation to their statutory rates and charges.
“The review of the hardship policy will be included in the new Council’s 2020-2021 budget development process after the local government election.”
Mr Chesterman said funds originally intended for the current round of the community grants and sponsorship programs would be diverted to those adversely impacted by the emerging pandemic emergency.
“This will allow us to repurpose $288,000 to a targeted grants program aimed at both relief and recovery efforts for small businesses and community organisations,” he said.
“Business Support Officers will be working closely with local businesses, social enterprises, community groups and sporting clubs to help them access the Federal and State Governments’ Economic Stimulus packages.
“Council has strengthened its local buy preference with existing contract arrangements being reviewed to expedite payments to improve supplier cash flows.
“Getting payments to our suppliers quickly is a practical way Council can help them with their cash flows.
“Council will also seek to bring forward up to $60 million worth of infrastructure projects that meet criteria for the Federal and State Government’s commitment to generate local economic activity during this time.
“These projects will of course depend on State and Federal government funding being made available.”
Cr Williams said these were among a raft of initiatives Councillors endorsed to ease the pain of Redlands Coast residents and businesses during these unprecedented times.
“We see this as stage one, our initial offering of support as we stand together with the Redlands Coast community,” she said.
Mr Chesterman said that after the election the new Council would continue to monitor and re-evaluate the rapidly evolving situation.
“It is vital our Council response is agile and flexible as well as empathetic and compassionate,” he said.
Access Council’s Financial Hardship Policy on Council’s website .