Council’s assistance targets Unley businesses

Published on 20 May 2020

open for takeaway sign on roadside

At a Special Council Meeting on Monday 18 May Unley Council resolved to help small businesses dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions by offering a substantial discount on rates for the fourth quarter of the year.

Council examined a range of options before deciding on a fifty per cent discount on outstanding rates applicable for the fourth quarter of the 2019-20 financial year for a range of businesses. The decision will see an automatic discount applied to outstanding rate balances for businesses in land use categories most affected, including hotels, clothing and footwear stores, food and drink outlets, beauty salons, ladies and men’s hairdressers, dental surgeries, gyms and saunas. No application is required from businesses to receive this discount.

‘Everyone acknowledges these are incredibly tough times for many of our businesses; there is no guidebook for how best to operate in a pandemic,’ Mayor Michael Hewitson AM said.

‘Im very proud of what we are doing, that we are in a position to offer some financial relief to business owners. Council has prioritised business retention with this decision as part of its commitment to a thriving business community, which is a key ingredient to the enviable lifestyle of our City’, Mayor Hewitson said.

This decision follows other assistance being offered by Unley Council worth an estimated $1.134M including:

  • deferral of the due date for rates until 31 August;
  • encouraging all ratepayers experiencing financial hardship to seek a payment plan beyond 31 August;
  • waiving 3 months of lease fees for Council lessees forced to close; and
  • offering a 50% reduction of lease fees to Council lessees experiencing financial hardship.

Mayor Hewitson pointed to Unley Council’s financial sustainability as a key contributor to the COVID-19 responses implemented.  ‘We are currently consulting on our Draft Annual Business Plan and Budget 2020/21, and are proposing a 0% rate increase to benefit all ratepayers, in recognition of the wide ranging impacts of COVID-19. Our proposed budget will not require any external borrowings and will deliver proposed projects and maintain current service levels from existing financial resources’, Mayor Hewitson said.

The current difficult economic climate has called on Council to extend support to the community wherever possible, whilst still adopting a considered financial management approach. The decision to discount fourth quarter rates will result in lost income of approximately $165K in the 2019/20 financial year. The proposed budget for 2020/21 will result in Council achieving an Operating Surplus Ratio of 3%. Whilst this is below the target of 5% Council’s long term financial sustainability is still maintained.

Council’s Draft Business Plan and Budget is open for consultation at Your Say Unley and feedback is sought until midnight on Thursday 21 May.

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