City of Boroondara’s $4.5 Million Relief Package
On 8 April 2020, the City of Boroondara announced a $4.5 million community support and relief package. The support targets ratepayers, traders, families and locals.
Council has offered ratepayers the option of applying to defer payments without being charged interest on unpaid rates until December 2020. For those that have their final quarterly instalment due in May, or those who have their two final payments due in April and May as part of a monthly instalment plan, this is a relief. However, there is no relief if you have already paid your rates in full by the due date in February 2020.
Tenants of council-owned buildings, including those in the Hawthorn Arts Centre, will have rent reduced "to match the period they have been unable to access the venue up until December 2020." Sporting clubs will also have leases and licence fees waived.
Traders have been offered social distancing decals (stickers for shop floors and footpaths), free online workshops, tutorials and mentoring sessions, promotion via Boroondara's social media platforms Boroondara Life on Facebook and #BoroondaraStillOpen, and waiving fees for trader parking permits ($81 - $556), food premises registration, and footpath trading ($84.50 - $650). The council are supporting the Glenferrie Traders Association by holding "collaboration meetings ... via teleconference to connect trader associations, share learning and discuss opportunities to support the associations and local businesses".
Relief for locals, families and visitors comes in the form of not enforcing time restrictions for parking around hospitals, Centrelink offices and under-utilised car parks and suspending ticket parking machines ($2.80/hr - $6.20/day) until September 2020. Council will waive fees for parent information sessions run by council, application fees for 3 and 4-year-old kindergarten for Boroondara Kindergarten Central Enrolment Scheme 2021 ($26.75 - $53.50) and fees for residential street parties ($100).
With many council facilities closed including the Hawthorn Library and the Hawthorn Arts Centre council has stated they are "currently making every effort to ensure our staff are productively engaged in supporting our community". The $4.5 million relief package is the amount of budgeted income the City of Boroondara will forgo and does not include any grant packages* for local businesses. The council explained they have rate caps, making them unable to increase future rates to make up for the loss of revenue during COVID-19.
The City of Boroondara’s relief package accounts for 28% of its 2019-20 budgeted surplus. Neighbouring councils also announced packages; Whitehorse City Council will offer relief of $2 million which is 8% their current surplus and the City of Yarra have allocated $7.46 million which is 12% of their 2019-20 surplus. Meanwhile, Manningham City Council’s relief package is $3.8 million, 23% of their surplus, and City of Stonnington’s package is approximately $3 million, 7% of their surplus.
* On 27 May the City of Boroondara announced grants for small businesses. Applications close on Sunday 7 June. For more information visit https://www.boroondara.vic.gov.au/business/marketing-and-business-support/grants-business