Special Council Meeting – Mayor Glen Hartwig
Special Council Meeting – Mayor Glen Hartwig

More than 500 Gympie residents seeking council rates relief

GYMPIE Regional Council has revealed more than 500 residents and businesses have applied for rates deferrals as southeast Queensland continues to feel the economic pressure of COVID-19.

Since the council’s meeting on March 24, 2020, 523 ratepayers have entered into payment plans with the council for their current rates, and a small number of businesses have had their discount date extended to July 9, 2020 (an additional three months).

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Council has also waived some fees and charges, at a cost of about $130,000, which include food business licences.

“We know our community, in particular our business community, are hurting so we are looking at further fees and charges that can be waived,” Mayor Glen Hartwig said last night.

“We have specialised staff available on hand to connect our business community to both state and federal funding grants, plus we (council) currently have grants available to businesses who need support or help to set up or build up their online presence.”

Special Council Meeting – Mayor Glen Hartwig and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon
Special Council Meeting – Mayor Glen Hartwig and Deputy Mayor Hilary Smerdon

Mr Hartwig said the council was offering more than just financial help.

“We have staff across the region who are helping with more of a hands-on approach, such as staff helping with Meals on Wheels in Kilkivan to support the more vulnerable members of our community,” he said.

“Council has also paid for advertising space across the region for businesses to promote free of charge.”

Council officers will also be taking a report to the council regarding the extension of the rates discount for those on payment plans.

Mr Hartwig said the budget will be delayed due to both the election and the pandemic.

“We will be looking to deliver the budget at least a month later than usual as we have a new council who need and deserve the time to discuss and consider the impact that COVID-19 will have and how we can best support our community,” he said.

“It’s also important that we have the time to release the budget for community consultation, so we have a very clear picture of what it is our community needs.”