Gold Coast council has unveiled a range of measures including the waiving of a long list of fees and charges as part of their COVID-19 stimulus package.

Incumbent Mayor Tom Tate revealed a range of options council will employ to ease the pain hitting ratepayers as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The measures include:

• Waiving roadsides dining fees, backdated to February 1, until June 30 at a minimum.

• Waiving development application fees relating directing to the COVID-19 situation. For example to allow existing restaurants converting to a takeaway service.

• Waiving film application fees until June 30.

• Waiving rents for businesses with commercial leases on city premises, backdated to March 1

• Waiving fees to commercial vessels from February 1.

• Waiving fees for any bookings of council facilities, venues or parks which had to cancel due to COVID-19. This is backdated to February 1. All refund policies will be relaxed to accommodate full refunds.

• Waving of all interest payments for businesses which enter affordable repayment agreements for water charges, waste water charges, waste charges and rates. Eligibility applies to all businesses who enter an approved payment arrangement.

• All new debt recovery action for overdue water charges, waste water charges, waste charges and rates will be suspended for businesses who enter an approved payment arrangement, excluding pre-existing debt incurred before COVID-19.

• Interest charged on unpaid water charges, waste water charges, waste charges and rates will be zero for businesses which enter into an approved repayment arrangement.

• Businesses without approved arrangements for repaying overdue water charges, waste water charges, waste charges and rates will have their penalty interest rate cut from 9.83 per cent to 3 per cent.

• Council’s free Wi-Fi network will be expanded to prove for business customers within Southport, Surfers Paradise, Chevron Renaissance, Broadbeach, Miami and Coolangatta. This will provide access to 4GB of data at speeds of close to 30mb/s.

Post election, council will consider the following measures.

• Accelerated capital works program.

• Revised purchasing policy to benefit local businesses.

• Fast-track joint venture to deliver high-speed internet services to businesses.

• Further assistance to other industries, including entertainment, dining, film, tourism, education, health and medical research.

Cr Tate told media that freezing rates and council charges would help Coast locals struggling.

“We are here to help, so where do we go from here? This is not a one-off support plan and in the long haul it is my intention to freeze rates,” he said.

“All water charges and levies. I will accelerate capital programs and make sure local businesses are strongly favoured. Jobs for locals.

“I will waive all fees and licenced to 443 community groups across the city. Sports clubs can buy new balls, bats and footballs so they can gear up for the future of our kids.

“The waiving of fees and charges is essential.”

As published by Andrew Potts of the Gold Coast Bulletin

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