Community needs come first during COVID-19 crisis

Keeping the Sunshine Coast community safe, informed and supporting local businesses to help keep our residents employed has been the focus to date of council’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and associated national public health directions.

The financial implications for council from its community safety and local business support measures is approximately $8 million through to June 30, 2020.

Sunshine Coast Mayor and Local Disaster Management Chair Mark Jamieson said council’s response to the COVID-19 crisis had necessarily focussed on two key priorities – community safety and supporting local businesses which help to keep local residents employed.

The $8 million included over $2 million in direct financial support, $353,000 in waived community and commercial leases, $371,000 in reimbursement/waiver of fees and charges and up to $450,000 in refund of waste collection from commercial businesses.

This support has benefited over 3,000 business and community groups directly and more than 10,000 in-directly via business advice, support, assistance and referrals.

“In a very short space of time, council staff and the local disaster management group acted quickly and decisively to manage our region’s response to what is the most significant public health challenge in more than a century,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Council has worked to keep our community safe and informed, including a public awareness campaign to deliver the most up-to-date information to our residents.

“Council has also prioritised looking after local jobs and this is why we made the decision to expedite the processing of payments to local suppliers to within seven days, where the goods and services have been supplied and all paperwork is in order.

“This has placed an average of $1.8 million earlier into the local economy each week and helps to keep local business operating and residents employed.”

Cr Ted Hungerford as the portfolio councillor responsible for budget matters said that while these were difficult times, council had stepped up to the plate to help our community navigate its way through the pandemic.

“We’ve done that by providing more than $2 million in direct financial support through two business support packages, the first of which focused on waiving fees and easing regulations where it was safe to do so,” Cr Hungerford said.

“Our second business package included community and commercial lease relief, a professional advice support program, provision of signage to help businesses adjust and bringing forward up to $3 million in capital works projects to support local jobs and keep money circulating in the local economy.

“Council’s two COVID-19 business support packages have complemented the business support initiatives provided by the State and Federal Governments.”

Cr Hungerford said council would consider the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and plans for the 2020/21 financial year during budget development discussions.

“The road to recovery will not be easy but our council is positioned better than most thanks to future-focussed projects we’ve instigated like the Sunshine Coast International Broadband Network which has been completed ahead of schedule, as well as the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project which is on track to hand over a new international standard runway to the Sunshine Coast Airport in mid-June.

Local businesses are encouraged to visit council’s COVID-19 business support webpage

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