Rates relief, parking, business grants in $2 million Redland City Council COVID-19 support package

TRYING TIMES: he iconic Bloomfield Street cow offered a message of comfort to passers by.
TRYING TIMES: he iconic Bloomfield Street cow offered a message of comfort to passers by.

A $2 million package to ease the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses was adopted in a special council meeting just two days before the election.

On Thursday, councillors voted unanimously to adopt the package, which included measures to waive or extend rates and fees, alter parking arrangements and bring forward infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy.

Nearly $290,000 would be deferred from the current community grants program and put towards relief and recovery efforts for small businesses and community organisations.

Council would also make one-off payments to impacted local community and associations to help them pay their electricity.

Council has provisions for affected businesses to have other fees and charges waived, like food licensing for local cafes and restaurants.

Residents would also get an extra month to pay their next rates bill and people unable to meet the deadline could have their overdue fees and charges waived.

Mayor Karen Williams said council would review ratepayers' situations on a case by case basis and would have a flexible and compassionate approach.

State legislation prevented council from changing rates during the financial year.

Cr Wendy Boglary said it was important for landlords benefiting from council measures to pass the benefits on to business owners and tenants.

The expansion of council's WiFi would be fast-tracked so businesses could boost their online services.

Council was also assembling a support team for local businesses.

"There are a number of stimulus packages out there, but when people are emotionally and financially stressed they need support in understanding and accessing those packages," Cr Williams said.

"We are putting in place a specialist team to provide that support easily and quickly to take the burden off our residents."

CLEVELAND: Cafes were open for takeaways only in line with government regulations introduced this week.

CLEVELAND: Cafes were open for takeaways only in line with government regulations introduced this week.

Meanwhile, island residents who had a vehicle parked on the mainland were encouraged to contact council if they had been instructed to self-isolate to prevent an infringement notice being issued.

Cr Peter Mitchell said the strategy provided a mix of immediate relief and long-term opportunities, including council applying to bring forward $60 million in capital works to boost local employment.

These included resurfacing, widening or upgrading Redlands roads and footpaths and green sealing Russell and Macleay island roads.

"When this is over we are going to need shovels in the ground as quickly as possible and we are doing the groundwork now to ensure that occurs," Cr Williams said.

"Because we are currently in the caretaker period, we are unable to make major policy decisions or significant financial decisions and state legislation also prohibits us from changing rates until our next budget is adopted.

Cr Paul Bishop said while people were encouraged to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, they should still check up on one another.

"Be online, connect with neighbours, but do that safely at a distance."

Residents needing to contact council were encouraged to do so over the phone or online where possible.

The Cleveland centre currently remains open, with strict social distancing measures in place.