Mayor Jack Dempsey after yesterday’s council meeting at the Bundaberg Civic Centre.
Mayor Jack Dempsey after yesterday’s council meeting at the Bundaberg Civic Centre.

Council puts full focus on coronavirus after first meeting

BUNDABERG Regional Council says it is in a good financial position to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

But it admits the true cost of the pandemic, to the council and the Bundaberg community, might not be felt for months or even years.

On Wednesday the newly elected council held its first meeting, a special post-election meeting, to officially declare the newly elected and returning councillors.

Cr Bill Trevor was elected unanimously as deputy mayor with Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey to be the district representative for the Local Government Association of Queensland.

The final part of the meeting saw Cr Greg Barnes and Cr Dempsey appointed as representatives for the Local Disaster Management Group.

For Childers and Gin Gin the disaster management sub groups for both towns will still be run by the Division 2 and Division 3 councillors respectively - Cr Trevor and Cr Wayne Honor.

Cr Dempsey said now the formalities were over the focus for the council was on one thing: the pandemic.

His promises, outlined before the election, will still be worked on but not at the cost of getting everyone through the pandemic.

"Today (Wednesday) gives us the official capacities, even for my roles, local chair, local district disaster, to continue and today now formulates that for the next four years," Cr Dempsey said.

"As every other council in Australia their number one priority is getting through the COVID-19.

"We have, obviously, the issues of a new hospital, of a flood action plan, of the port, of the redevelopment of the river precinct.

"The list goes on but today it's about addressing COVID-19 issues.

"They certainly will have an impact on those three areas, I mentioned before, environmental, community and personal side of it.

"The first priority is the health and well being of our community as well as working on all the other areas."

Cr Dempsey wouldn't reveal how much the council has spent or will spend over the next few months to get through this.

But Cr Trevor told the NewsMail the council had already spent millions on it.

"Already the measures we've put in place are valued at approximately three million dollars," he said.

This included all the measures outlined in the council relief package.

Cr Dempsey said any further funding, including further stimulus packages, would be worked through with the different levels of government.

"I'm the chairing the economic recovery team, we've had that in place now for approximately four weeks," he said

"We're working in with the other levels of governments, both state and federal, to see what stimulus comes down.

"From a council side, all of those things that we've put out previously, from reducing leasings to all of the other percentages off interest payments and all this other stuff they are still in place.

"So there's what the council is doing and then there is the further part of what we are doing as the whole community."

Cr Dempsey said both parts were ongoing, would cost millions, and would be budgeted in this financial year and the next.

The council's next meeting is on April 29.



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