The response to Monash Council’s unprecedented proposal to waive 10 percent of council rates has not been effusive as hoped in view of the big fall in business as a result of the measures brought in to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The president of the Oakleigh Village and Traders Association (OVTA) president Anna Sfrantzis, said that there should be a far greater reduction in rates than the proposed 10 percent waiver because businesses in the area had taken huge blows in recent months.

“I do not think it is enough. The 10 percent waiver is not much the help we need is closer to a 50 per cent reduction. Business is not as usual and everyone is really struggling.

“Business will not return to normal for a least another year,” said Ms Sfrantzis.

Monash Council released news of the proposal on 30 June and said the unprecedented move to apply the 10 percent waiver of rates for business and residences was a first for a municipalitiy in Australia.

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“The 10 per cent waiver will be automatically applied to all rates notices. There is a 2% increase that is set by the State Government’s rate and we will then apply the 10% waiver to all 81,000 ratepayers,” Councillor Stuart James, the mayor of the city of Monash told Neos Kosmos.

The decision to waive the rates was made on the grounds of financial hardship under Section 171 of the Local Government Act 1989. The mayor said the decision was made in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 on the community and was a  gesture of support to those in Monash, including businesses and vulnerable ratepayers, who are impacted by the pandemic, many who now are without jobs.”

Cr James said that in applying the waiver, the council would cost the council around $12.7 million.

“We know that services including waste collection, our libraries, maintenance of roads and footpaths, sporting facilities, child immunisation and meals on wheels are vital to our community and we’ve made sure that none of these will be impacted by the reduction in rates for 20/21. At this stage, our in-person events and festivals are on hold given the restrictions applied by the government,” he said.

“The most immediate financial assistance we can give our community is to reduce the amount of rates people pay, whether it’s households or businesses.”

The rates waiver will be applied for the 2020-21 financial year and will appear on the rates that would probably be issued in mid-September.