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Up to 1,000 jobs included in COVID-19 Recovery Package

Western Downs Regional Council has unveiled a major stimulus package to secure and create jobs, energize the economy, and support the region through the COVID-19 health crisis.

WDRC Recovery Package fast facts:

  • Total package expected to create up to 1,000 jobs
  • Targeted rates, fees and charges relief for businesses and residents
  • $1.3M Community Groups Infrastructure Program and Community Organisation Hardship and Assistance Grants Program
  • $14.8 million Accelerated Infrastructure Program
  • $33.5 million Accelerated Major Projects Program including the development and delivery of 11 major projects for prominent regional locations
  • $62,500 Business Support Program

Endorsing the comprehensive package at its first meeting following the 28 March election, Western Downs Regional Council is pushing ahead to deliver the multi-million-dollar initiative which would offer targeted support to where it’s most needed.

Mayor Paul McVeigh said this historic package would cover five core programs focussed on securing up to 1,000 local jobs and re-energizing the economy.

“We’re putting everything on the table to support our economy and our communities through the recovery of this global crisis, this is our biggest ever commitment and I’m really proud that we have had the financial capacity to do this,” Cr McVeigh said.

“This will not only secure and create up to 1,000 local jobs but will also create a fantastic legacy for our region.

“The Western Downs Regional Council Recovery Package is focused on creating and securing local jobs for local people – which is why a $14.8M suite of infrastructure projects will be fast-tracked and completed within twelve months using local contractors and suppliers.

“Accelerated infrastructure projects include road surface upgrades and flood repairs, footpath installations, and community building and facility upgrades right across the Western Downs.

“We will also fast-track the detailed design and implementation of 11 major projects, which will see exciting new or upgraded recreational spaces delivered at key destinations across the Western Downs.

“We have committed $2 million to accelerate the detailed design of these projects to ensure they are shovel-ready and eligible for funding under State and Federal Government grants. Council has also set aside over $17 million to deliver these projects over the next three years with support from other levels of Government.

“These are defining projects for our region and will generate economic growth while celebrating what’s great about the Western Downs. Some of these projects include a brand new park in the Dalby CBD, mountain bike trails at the Bunya Mountains, a brand new Miles CBD Streetscape, as well as works to tourist destinations such as Caliguel Lagoon at Miles, Lake Broadwater, Waterloo Plains Park at Wandoan and Chinchilla Weir.”

Cr McVeigh said Council would also provide relief to those most impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, particularly local businesses and community groups.

“Our local businesses and community groups are the backbone of our region and as a Council, we are doing our part to support those impacted by this unprecedented event and keep our economy on its feet,” he said.

“A $1.3 million grants program has also been established to support community and sporting groups in the region, with a $1 million fund for infrastructure projects, and a $300,000 hardship and assistance grants program for those groups hardest hit.

“Council will also offer targeted relief on rates, fees and charges including a 50% rebate on Retail/Commercial and Shopping Centre rates under the current levy, extend the discount period to 30 June 2020 for all ratepayers, and offer interest relief on overdue rates until 30 September 2020.

“We will also waive food licensing fees until 30 June, 2021 as well as planning, plumbing and building fees to encourage growth.

“We have also committed $62,500 to deliver initiatives aimed at supporting local businesses including a Business Recovery Planning Program, E-Commerce support, and partnering with local Chambers of Commence to deliver a regional buy local campaign.

“To reduce the financial pressure on households, we have waived desexed dog registration fees on new and existing registrations until 30 June 2021.

“This is going to be a long fight, and this historic package will go a long way to secure jobs, give economic certainty and deliver projects to look after the future needs of the region.”

For more information about Council’s stimulus package, visit the Western Downs Regional Council website on www.wdrc.qld.gov.au

Western Downs Regional Council COVID-19 Recovery Package Fact Sheet

Accelerated Infrastructure Program

1. $14.8 million to accelerate a comprehensive suite of infrastructure projects to secure and create jobs
2. Projects include road and footpath upgrades
3. community building upgrades and activation projects
4. All works to be undertaken by local contractors and suppliers wherever possible
5. All works to start immediately and be completed within 12 months
Accelerated Major Projects Program
1. $33.5 million to accelerate the design and delivery of 11 major projects across the Western Downs as part of a potential co-funded agreement with other levels of Government
2. $2 million to complete detailed design of the 11 major projects for new or improved recreational spaces to ensure they are ‘shovel ready’
3. Major projects include:
a. Chinchilla Cultural Precinct
b. Chinchilla Weir
c. Lake Broadwater
d. Russell Park Mountain Bike Trails, Bunya Mountains
e. Caliguel Lagoon
f. Tara Lagoon Parklands
g. 120 Cunningham St, Dalby
h. Miles CBD Streetscape
i. Miles VIC/ Historical Village Entrance and Landscaping
j. Thomas Jack Park, Dalby
k. Waterloo Plains Park, Wandoan

Sporting and Community Groups Program

1. $300,000 Community Hardship & Assistance Grants Program
• To provide ‘quick response’ financial assistance to eligible community organisations that are either experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19-related service disruptions or those seeking to establish alternate service delivery models for business continuity
• Eligible groups may receive a grant of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive)
• Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application within 10 business days from the date of Council receiving a completed application
• Applications open 1 June, 2020 and open for 12 months
• Program will conclude on 30 June 2021

2. $1 million Community Infrastructure Grants Program
• Designed to fund infrastructure or capital works for not-for-profit community and sporting organisations
• One grants round for applications of up to $200,000
• 50/50 funding arrangements with Council
• Opening for applications on 1 June, 2020, closing on 30 September, 2020
• Projects must be completed by 31 December, 2021

Business Support Initiatives Program

1. Business Recovery Planning Program
• Program to be funded by Council and delivered by local business planning specialists
• To help business build resilience by providing advice on cash flow and relief, turnaround and possible growth strategies, implementing a risk management plan and business continuity plan

2. E-Commerce Support Program
• Program to be funded by Council and delivered by business support organisations
• Will include webinars and one-on-one consultations to help businesses build their online presence, social media and website

3. Regional ‘Buy Local’ Campaign
• Funded by Council and managed by local Chambers of Commerce via an EOI process
• Create a buy local campaign to support local businesses and help them promote their services, goods and equipment

Rates, Fees and Charges Relief
1. 50% rebate on all Retail/Commercial and Shopping Centre rates under the current levy
2. Extension of discount period on all general rates to 30 June, 2020
3. Waived planning, building and plumbing fees until 30 June 2021 to encourage future growth
4. Interest relief on overdue rates until 30 September, 2020
5. Waived food licensing fees until 30 June 2021
6. Hardship assistance available to ratepayers including options such as payment plans, discount periods and interest relief on overdue rates assessed on a case-by-case basis
7. Waived desexed dog registration fees until 30 June 2021 to reduce burden on households.

Media Contact:

Western Downs Regional Council Media Office 07 4679 4265