Scenic Rim council adopts a second economic stimulus package

COVID HELP: Council says a second economic stimulus plan will help offset the impact of COVID-19 of families and businesses.
COVID HELP: Council says a second economic stimulus plan will help offset the impact of COVID-19 of families and businesses.

SCENIC Rim council has announced a second economic stimulus package to minimise the ongoing financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the Scenic Rim Economic Stimulus Package 2: COVID-19 built on the tranche of initiatives delivered in the first economic stimulus package announced in March.

"Since its emergence, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to significantly impact the world economy, stifling the ability of businesses to operate, threatening supply chains, dampening consumer spending and causing job losses," he said.

"In the Scenic Rim, job losses - primarily in the industries of retail, tourism and hospitality which make up a significant portion of the region's economy - have had a major impact on our community as COVID-19 has threatened the viability of small-to-medium sized enterprises.

"To minimise the long-term impact on the local economy, and to provide a foundation for its recovery, it is important that these businesses remain viable as they represent more than 90 per cent of the estimated 4,425 businesses in the Scenic Rim and are the major employers in our region.

"Recognising that businesses are hurting, we have extended the Financial Hardship Policy on overdue rates and charges to commercial ratepayers. This is a first for our region, as this was previously only available to residential and rural ratepayers on their principal place of residence."

Cr Christensen said a number of initiatives from the first Economic stimulus package announced in March included the expedited payment of invoices from local suppliers to help them maintain cash flow, and greater involvement of local suppliers in council's procurement processes to support local spending.

Key initiatives of the Scenic Rim Economic Stimulus Package 2: COVID-19, which complements the emergency response policies of the Australian and Queensland Governments, are:

Assistance for Scenic Rim families

  • Extending the Financial Hardship Policy on overdue rates and charges
  • Reducing the interest rate on overdue rates and charges
  • Providing an additional discount on general rates
  • Allowing financial hardship considerations for those in extraordinary circumstances.

Assistance for Scenic Rim businesses

  • Providing rebates on a range of commercial licence fees for applicants who meet the hardship criteria
  • Providing business resilience training and mentoring packages
  • Promoting the Investment Incentive Program and deferral of infrastructure charges
  • Introducing a Digital and e-Commerce Grant Program to assist businesses in adapting from the traditional shopfront model
  • Providing the Scenic Rim Facade Improvement Scheme Grant program to encourage business owners and landlords to enhance the appearance of their building facades
  • Providing access to a free, professional and confidential counselling service for local business owners, operators and employees impacted by COVID-19
  • Extending the Financial Hardship Policy on overdue rates and charges
  • Reducing the interest rate on overdue rates and charges
  • Providing an additional discount on general rates
  • Allowing financial hardship considerations for those in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Enabling businesses to temporarily operate outside some development conditions where health and safety is not affected.

Assistance for Scenic Rim community organisations

  • Providing a Club Crisis Assistance Package to help not-for-profit community organisations most impacted by COVID-19 to get back on track.
  • Enabling providers of the Be Healthy and Active Program to receive full payment for cancelled activities which are conducted online and free to participants.
  • Providing the Community Grants Program, offering training to organisations in use of the new SmartyGrants online portal and a flexible grants acquittal program.
  • Providing in-kind assistance and equipment loans.

Assistance with fees and charges

  • Refunding booking fees paid for cancelled events and venues and waiving increased costs for the hire of larger venues required by social distancing measures.
  • Providing rent relief for tenants of council-owned commercial premises.
  • Delaying increases in fees and charges for 2020-21 until 1 August 2020.

Cr Chirstensen said there was still considerable uncertainty around the potential economic implications of COVID-19

"The economic shock is likely to be significant as it continues to impact on consumer confidence, the cash flow of businesses and people's ability to work," he said.

"To address these economic challenges, all levels of government must do what they can to support small businesses."

"Council has a unique role to play, given our existing relationships with the local business community and our local knowledge enabling us to tailor our response and ensure any investment is well placed."

Council will monitor the progress of the Scenic Rim Economic Stimulus Package 2: COVID-19 in September and prior to its conclusion on December 31.