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Whitsunday Regional Council has endorsed a recovery package that will help assist residents and businesses during the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Andrew Willcox said that since the breakout of COVID-19, Council has been continually evaluating delivery of front-line services to the community.
“We have tried to adapt to the fast changing and unique pandemic situation to offer support to the Whitsunday community, including the tourism and business sector,” he said.
“This package builds on measures already implemented by Council and its partnership groups in supporting residents and business.“Council has played a key role in community relief including the support of residents who are in non-mandatory isolation, who may be vulnerable.
“This support has included the coordination of effected residents and businesses toward available relief packages and linking in to local social, community and health support services,” Mayor Willcox said.
“Council’s COVID-19 Recovery package includes relief across numerous small business fees and charges including footpath dining and food licencing as well as car parking fees in Airlie Beach.
“Through our ED team, we are also working with the local business community through a targeted business survey to assess the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 to ensure future support is provided where it is needed most during recovery.
“Council faces key business challenges in delivering essential services and I have already held positive talks with both Federal and State governments is advocating for funding assistance packages to help lead our region’s recovery,” he said.
At the ordinary meeting in Collinsville yesterday, Council endorsed the following COVID-19 Recovery package:
1. Small Business Fee Relief Package: $173,400
That the current Development Incentives Policy (DIP) which is generally used for a reduction of 50% of the applicable infrastructure charges be preserved to fund the Council Small Business Fee Relief Package. Until 30 June 2020, Council will provide a rebate on its adopted charges by setting fees and charges payable to the Whitsunday Regional Council for that period (including the pro rata portion of any annual fee):
(a) under the Food Act 2006 (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees; ~$72,500 (Total annual revenue for Food Renewals = $145,000)
(b) for footpath dining fees (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees ~ $40,900(Total Annual revenue Dining hire fees per sqm = $81,800)
(c) Trade waste and backflow device licence fees (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees. ~ $60,000
2. CBD Parking Relief Package: $420,000
That all Council controlled paid parking will be free of charge until 10 August 2020. This saving locals and tourists $420,000 which will hopefully be used on local businesses.
3. Community Advocacy Position $28.6M Grant funding
Rates Relief PackageThat Council advocate to the Australian Governments for a rates relief package for the payment of 6 months equivalent general rates valued at $25M to provide essential financial hardship relief to all Councils ratepayers. Total estimated National Package value $2B.
Early return to Business as Usual
That Council advocate to the DDMG and all levels of Government for the controlled early return to Business as Usual recognising that Social Distancing and other health department directives will still need to be reinforced. The sooner we can get small businesses operating the more chance we have of retaining them in the long term.
W4Q COVID-19 Funding Round
That Council advocate for a special round of COVID-19 W4Q funding: $3.6M
Funding Streams: 1. Community Events2. Community Infrastructure
4. Tourism Industry Relief Package: $2.4M
RPT Flight support
That Council lobby the Government for RPT flight support to assist with the recommencement of the RPT services including a financial contribution (capped at $200,000) matching any Government contribution to support the return of air services to the region.
Tourism Kickstart Program
That Council commit to the development of a Tourism Kickstart Program. That the Council work with Tourism Whitsunday in an effort to establish competitive domestic stay campaigns. This program will involve advocating to Government for $2M in grant funding assistance and negotiations with the Tourism industry to develop packages which for example include stay and fly subsidised packages. This not only assist recovery in the tourism sector but assists in generating aircraft passenger numbers so that routes can be re-established.
5. Rates Incentive and Hardship Program
That Council introduce a rates payment incentive program in addition to its current “Rate Relief due to hardship Policy”. This program will provide for incentive discounts for payment of rates on time. For those customers, whose circumstances have been affected by COVID-19 will be afforded every opportunity to access the Councils “Rate Relief due to Hardship Policy”.
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