Rates fight unites traders

Heads of Hobsons Bay's four main trader groups have joined forces: Nikki Eyes, Kim Walsh, Gill Gannon and Mahesh Garg. Photo: Damjan Janevski 211841_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

Hobsons Bay’s four main trader associations have united in an unprecedented move to jointly object to proposed rates rises.

Under Hobsons Bay council’s draft 2020-21 budget, it is proposed to increase rates by 3.89 per cent for commercial properties and 8.78 per cent for industrial properties.

Newport Traders Association president Gill Gannon, Williamstown Chamber of Commerce president Nikki Eyes, Altona Village Traders Association president Kim Walsh and Laverton Traders Association president Mahesh Garg have lodged a joint objection.

Budget submissions will be considered at the August 11 council meeting, with the final budget to be adopted on August 18.

Ms Gannon, speaking on behalf of the four associations, said COVID-19 had many businesses “on their knees with much uncertainty on how long restrictions would last”.

“We would like Hobsons Bay to reconsider their proposed increase because, obviously, with COVID-19 all of the traders are impacted,” she said.

“We would like us all, together, to come up with a way that Hobsons Bay will [deliver] their assistance package to traders.

“At the moment, they have announced some relief but those relief packages are not being received by every single business.

“We would like something that every single business benefits from.”

The draft budget allocates nearly $2 million to business and economic recovery this financial year, including: rebates for food registration ($595,000), public health fees ($63,000) and footpath trading permit fees ($150,000); extending the waiver of paid parking in Nelson Place until December 31, 2020 ($520,000); rent relief in council buildings ($210,000); town planning rebates ($177,000); and rolling out a business precinct support campaign ($250,000).

But Ms Gannon said some businesses had “missed out on every single bit of opportunity”.

“To give you an example, the allied health [professionals] – a lot of them don’t have anything out the front of their business, so don’t pay for footpath trading, don’t have any registrations,” she said.

“They haven’t opened their doors – a lot of them – since March.

“Pilates studios, yoga studios, beauty salons, nail places and places like that also don’t have tables and chairs outside. They don’t have goods outside.

“So, they have received no relief.

“What we’re suggesting is a rates reduction, or to stabilise the rates [to] affect everyone evenly.

“We would just like to see every business, and in particular the ones who have been more heavily impacted by being not being able to trade, looked after a little more.”