Hobsons Bay traders “pushed to the wall“ by COVID-19 say they will object to a 3.89 per cent rate rise proposed under the council’s annual draft budget.
While the planned average general rate increase across all categories is 2 per cent, consistent with the rate cap, commercial and industrial properties will bear the rates burden, according to a council report.
“Council has attempted to mitigate the additional rates to these properties by providing significant financial relief to businesses through the third community support package,“ the report states.
“This includes rebates for food safety fees ($767 average), footpath trading permits (average ranging between $208 and $794) and health premises registrations ($261 average) for each applicable property.
Altona Village Traders Association president Kim Walsh said he had asked the council to give the footpath trading fees back after the coronavirus shutdown.
“They did the right thing, but we also stress that it wasn’t their money to have in the first place,“ he said.
“With any rate rises, Altona traders – in a perfect world, we would love to see no increase at all.
“They’re really, really doing it tough.
“We’ve already lost a couple of businesses from the area who won’t be coming back.
“The businesses are really, genuinely struggling.
“We understand council has to get some income … but certainly 4 per cent seems to be well over the top.“
Williamstown Chamber of Commerce vice-president Craig Turton said the timing of the proposed rates rise was not right.
“It’s not really in the spirit of what’s happening at the moment,“ he said.
“I guess it’s not representing what the spirit of the local economy is at the moment. It’s just a further cost.
“Those rates are passed on to business owners and on to the commercial landlords, so we have to pay those.
“And it just seems a bit strange because most of the commercial landlords have reduced the rents for businesses to help them.
“I think in turn, the commercial owners are claiming back their land tax discounts from government, so everybody is trying to reduce costs.
“So, it’s not really in the spirit of what we’re all trying to do to survive.“