From Peter Tegart, CEO of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council
26 March 2020
The COVID-19 situation is presenting all of us with serious challenges, especially our businesses.
A range of support measures have been put in place for businesses and individuals by the Federal and State Governments and businesses are encouraged to visit the following sites
Council is also considering ways it can assist our business community. It is important to understand that NSW legislation currently prevents councils from rebating or waiving general rates.
However, we do have a Hardship and Financial Assistance Policy which Council has asked staff to review in light of the COVID-19 developments. Amendments to this Policy require endorsement by councillors and we’re aiming to present a revised policy to the 8 April meeting. Some initial thinking, noting that this has not been endorsed by Council, includes:
- deferred rate payments and payments by arrangement over an extended period
- waiving interest charges for that period
- allowing any ratepayer to apply for this assistance
- Council’s Financial Assistance Policy enables donations to assist community, educational, recreational, religious and educational groups – and may include assistance with rates and charges
- Council’s Rental Policy may increase rental rebates to occupiers for council-owned leased properties, based on a matrix that recognises public benefit, economic impacts and the like
- Refund hirers for prepaid bookings of facilities that are now closed
- Note, Council does not charge rent for occupation of other public spaces such as footpaths used by business
- Note, NSW Government only provided rebates on council rates to bushfire impacted properties for current FY
As you would be aware, this situation is changing rapidly and this may impact our approach at the 8 April meeting. Our next rates instalment are due to be issued on 1 May and payable by 31 May. Again, this is set in legislation and is consistent across the state.
For food businesses in our Local Government Area, we are keeping residents updated on those businesses providing takeaway options via the Visit Queanbeyan-Palerang blog at https://visitqueanbeyanpalerang.com.au/takeaway-and-delivery-in-queanbeyan-palerang
General updates on Council services and initiatives will be provided via qprc.nsw.gov.au or Council’s Facebook page.
Chief Executive Officer
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council