Tweed Heads Civic Centre
Tweed Heads Civic Centre Contributed

BREAKING: Tweed council approves coronavirus rebates/waivers

ROLLING COVERAGE OF TODAY'S TWEED SHIRE COUNCIL MEETING

5.10PM:

Cr Warren Polglase believes the measures council just implemented do not go far enough to help the community financially.

He moved that the council to freeze all rate increases including fees and charges in the 2020-2021 budget.

After a heated debate, the motion failed three to four.

Cr Polglase said the stimulus package which was just passed would costs council about $633,000 and he believed that "in a budget the Tweed council has for the community we represent - that is a bit ordinary".

"The proposal I put forward was $1.6 million and would give relief to everyone," he said.

"I am asking for a freeze on our rates and charges for a period of 12 months.

"I want to help all the community, not just a small portion of the community."

Cr Cherry echoed the concern Cr Polglase raised about "the position everyone is going to be in for the coming months" but did not support the motion as she believed the stimulus package just passed did a better job of really supporting the community.

Cr Byrnes spoke in support as did Cr Owen.

Cr Allsop did not support the motion as "from a business side of things" he said he would rather be in a solid position financially going forward as the future was still uncertain.

"We hope it plateaus but if things go pear-shaped we would like to know we can come at it later and safeguard for the future," he said.

Cr Ron Cooper said the rates freeze motion would burden future rates payers as he had witnessed in past councils when "we had to go through seven years of more-than-normal rate rises".

"It is just ridiculous from an equity point of view."

Mayor Milne said the previously passed package was designed for people who needed it the most.

She said it was true one of the largest land holders in the Tweed is one of the richest men in Australia. 

"We are also looking at the other financial impacts as we (the council) are wearing we loss of five or our seven  holiday parks as well as no income coming in from our swimming pools," Mayor Milne said.

She estimated the holidays parks were bringing in around $7 million a year which would not happen this year.

4.58PM:

Standing orders have been resumed.

4.50PM:

Two more measures to lessen the financial burden for those in the Tweed Shire have been passed.

These are:  

Waiving/refunding the booking/ licence fees for council facility, venue or park for 2020

Pause/deferment on payment on council loans for six months for all not for profit and sporting clubs commencing April 3, 2020.

Cr Owen has left the meeting due to a declared conflict of interest with this measure.

General manager Troy Green said these measures compliment what the other two tiers of government have done.

He said the situation could be revisited down the track, as could the budget.

The vote passed unanimously.

4.45PM:

Council will also "rebate/ waiver of all outdoor dining fees for 12 months" as part of the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Measures motion.

Mayor Milne left the meeting due to a declared conflict of interest.

Cr Owen asked how tennants of buildings as well as the landlords would be notified of the rebate/waiver.

General manager Troy Green said depending on the details of the lease, council would make sure the relevant parties were notified.

Cr Cherry said removing the charge while cafes couldn't use it anyway was a small way to help already struggling businesses, many of whom had been forced into take-away only.

The vote passed unanimously.

4.30PM

Council has unanimously voted for several rate/fee rebates and waivers to help residents of the shire during the coronavirus pandemic.

These include:

Deferral of two quarters (Q4 2019/ 2020 and Q1 2020/2021) of rate instalments on application for residents and businesses that can demonstrate they have been negatively impacted financially by COVID-19.  The deferral will attract zero interest and will be repayable over a two-year period commencing Quarter 2, 2020/2021.

Waiver/Rebate of annual airfield lease for commercial businesses directly affected by COVID-19 aviation downturn at the Murwillumbah airfield 2020/2021

50 per cent rent reduction for Cattle Sale Yards for 2020

80 per cent rent reduction for Visitor Information Centres for the during of the pandemic 

 Waiving/rebate licencing fees at the Tweed Marina for 2020

Waiver of Development Application Fees relating to the COVID-19 emergency for 12 months commencing April 3, 2020

Waive parking cost at the council-owned car park at Murwillumbah for a period of six months commencing from April 3, 2020

Cr Chris Cherry noted the significant cost to council to provide these measures and commended Cr Byrnes and Cr Polglase for putting forward the motions to get the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Measures going, as well as the general manager Troy Green for finding ways to help community members in need.

Cr Owen gave examples of his neighbours who lost their jobs as just one of the families who would benefit from these measures in hard times and urged council to continue looking at ways to assist residents in the future.

Cr Reece Byrnes thanked Cr Warren Polglase as well as councillors and staff to get the stimulus package going.

"It's a good start," he said.

"We are all in this together and whatever we can do and continue to do to help residents we will do."

Mayor Milne also spoke in support of the motion.

General manager Troy Green mentioned the future amendment of the contract with Tweed Tourism Company as the company has recognised there are things they will not be able to deliver on due to the coronavirus pandemic. He confirmed the meetings about varying the contract may include talks of a possible contract extension.

3.50PM:

Standing orders have been suspended.

3.30PM:

Mayor Milne moved in mayoral minutes that: The mayor writes to the NSW Premier as soon as possible and the Local State Member to request a NSW border closure for the Tweed Shire as a matter of urgency to provide further protection for NSW and Tweed Shire residents.

She spoke about concerns from the public about the "large number of Queensland residents coming into our shire who are normally welcome but in this situation they are creating considerable angst and anxiety".

Mayor Milne referenced locals feeling "swamped and overwhelmed" by Queenslanders coming into the shire's supermarkets and beaches.

Cr Owen said in that case he had already written to the local state member and NSW Premier earlier in the week, not advocating for the border closure, but relaying community feedback he had received.

He supported the closure of the NSW border.

Mayor Milne said had already written a number of times to the Member for Tweed Geoff Provest and had not received a response but was willing to write again.

"I understand he is not supportive of that position or taking calls from community members about that," she said.

Cr Chris Cherry supported closing the border but did not support any closure of the beach car parks.

Cr Pryce Allsop said ultimately social distancing was what is most important.

He said be believed the farmers market in Murwillumbah should work on social distancing, he did not want it to close but needed to lobby the community more to keep greater note of social distancing.

Mayor Milne expressed a wish to put forward a separate motion about making the Tweed Shire a 'red zone' as a coronavirus preventative measure at a later date.

The vote passed unanimously.

3.23PM:

Council has moved into the ordinary meeting.

Council has adopted the recommendations of the planning committee meeting.

Mayor Milne declared a conflict of interest for the waiving of outdoor dining fees as a family member has a cafe which would benefit.

Cr James Owen declared a conflict of interest in relation to deferment of loan payments council made to sporting clubs as he works for the Tweed Heads Seagulls Rugby League Club.

Council will endeavour to split voting on the item 23.1 so councillors can remove themselves from the relevant measures of the recommendations.

3.20PM:

The vote about whether to issue two Penalty Infringement Notices ($6,000 each) to the landowner, ECFSF Pty Ltd, of 217 McAllisters Road, Bilambil Heights for undertaking development without consent has also been postponed.

The executive summary says a development application was received by the council in response to compliance action for the establishment of a number of dwellings at the property.

Consent is being sought for the use of an existing, historically established dwelling as a bed and breakfast accommodation.

Consent is also sought for the use of the unapproved 'cabin' established on site for residential purposes and an unapproved 'atco' demountable structure for residential purposes also.

Both of these units require upgrades in order to ensure they are compliant with the provisions of the Building Code of Australia.

Consent is sought for the use of a shipping container on site as well as two water tanks which have also been established without consent.

The application was placed on public exhibition for a period of 14 days and during this time the council received 13 submissions objecting to the development.

The report says "given that structures have been established on site without the benefit of the required prior approval, it is considered appropriate that consent be issued on a deferred commencement basis, with the applicable Section 7.11 contributions be charged prior to the consent becoming operational.

"Furthermore, it is considered appropriate in response to the level of works undertaken on site without the appropriate consent that two Penalty Infringement Notices ($6,000 each) be issued to the landowner (broadly relating to the establishment of two habitable structures without consent."  

Formal compliance complaints were lodged with the council.

These complaints related to the construction and use of structures on site as farm stay accommodation and as rural workers dwellings.

It was noted that complaints received related to the advertising of the accommodation on AirBnB website.

This application has been lodged in order to regularise the development undertaken on site.

Mayor Milne spoke about wanting to postpone the voting for a further site inspection and negotiation for the best outcome for all involved.

This passed unanimously.

3.15PM:

The vote has been postponed for a request for a planning proposal to amend land use zone boundaries on 1 Walmsley Road, Bilambil Heights on January 21, 2020.

Mayor Milne said she was not necessarily objecting to the application but would like to see the proponents work towards better environmental measures in line with the expectations of council officers before voting on the proposal.

This passed unanimously.

3.10PM:

The planning committee meeting is now underway.

All councillors are present and appearing by videolink.

Mayor Katie Milne read the aboriginal statement.

General manager Troy Green read a prayer.

There were no disclosures of conflicts of interest in the planning committee meeting.

2.50PM:

The council meeting has not started yet due to technical difficulties.

2.30PM:

TODAY'S Tweed Shire Council planning committee and general meetings will be the first live broadcast to the community online as council chambers have been closed to the public as a coronavirus protection measure.

The Local Government Act has been amended to allow for this.

Community members could still apply to make submissions on an agenda item by contacting council.  

$633,000 in a budget that size and the community we represent is a bit ordinary. The proposal I put forward was $1.6 million and would give relief to everyone.

I am asking for a freeze on our rates and charges for a period of 12 months.



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