Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council will implement a range of strategies to help residents, businesses and community organisations with the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Tim Overall, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council mayor, says that while councils aren’t able to waive or rebate rate changes under NSW legislation, they will provide assistance where they can.
“The immediate focus during the COVID-19 pandemic is on the health and safety of our community and our staff, but the financial impacts are being felt across our local government area,” he says.
For residents and ratepayers:
- Extend the modified approach to apply for hardship relief to residential and business ratepayers, enabling employees who have lost their jobs and businesses that have closed or have been restricted trade as a consequence of Government orders. That same relief continues to apply for farmland rate properties as a consequence of the drought, and other properties damaged or destroyed as a consequence of the bushfires.
- The relief options include deferral of rate instalments and extending regular rate payments over two years, and the waiver of interest charges, under approved payment plans.
- Defer the proposed Bungendore and Braidwood stormwater levy ($20 per year) and associated works by a year.
- Work with local service providers for a coordinated COVID/Bushfire neighbourhood program in support of vulnerable members of the community to assist drop offs, call ins and the like.
- Not apply the forthcoming increase in Councillor and Mayor fees for an initial period of six months.
For businesses and community organisations
- Waive or defer rents for commercial operators leasing council property who can demonstrate financial distress due to COVID-19, in line with Commonwealth/State Government codes.
- Continue to waive footpath and related fees for businesses.
- Continue to provide online business planning, marketing and other support to local businesses.
- Defer the Bungendore-Braidwood Treasure Trail tourism campaign until residents and visitors are permitted to travel freely.
- Offer deferred developer contributions for commercial development applications in the recovery period.
Cr Overall says Council will advocate to the State and Federal Governments for financial assistance to the sector, including additional Financial Assistance Grants, eligibility for the Federal Job Keeper Program, relaxation of development contribution reserve restrictions, and confirm announced drought and bushfire recovery payments.
Additionally, Council will advocate to have access to Government reserves to supply additional PPE, equipment and resources to undertake wide scale surface cleaning across all public areas of the community and encourage government departments to bring forward investments into regional centres.
“Following announcements from the State and Federal Government, Council has closed a number of public-facing services and facilities to protect our staff and customers,” Cr Overall says.
“However as we are considered an essential service we are continuing to maintain our roads, parks, reserves and facilities, and provide a range of services including water, sewer and waste, phone and online customer service, and development assessments and inspections.”
A full list of affected Council services can be found at qprc.nsw.gov.au/COVID-19-Coronavirus