As Ballarat property owners start to receive their rates notices from early next week, a rate rise has increased the pressure on business owners already feeling the heat after a pandemic-ridden 18 months.
While the City of Ballarat placed a freeze on rate increases last year in light of the pandemic, residential rates for the 2021-22 financial year have increased 1.5 per cent in line with the state government's rate cap.
Property owners will also now have the option to pay their rates in 10 monthly installments by direct debit from September to June.
However, for some who own both businesses and property in Ballarat, the rate rises increase the financial pressure.
North Britain Hotel owner Peter Burton said he would have liked to see another freeze.
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"I just think it's a bad time to put up a rate increase when we've been shut down for 180-odd days in a year and, really, the council doesn't do a lot for their rates," he said.
"I just think it's a bit of a joke, really. They're not giving many services for what you're actually paying. I don't know how they justify it at the time.
"I think they could've cut in other areas, maybe, just until things improve a bit and I'm sure there's a lot of people hurting out there who have lost their jobs, haven't got jobs and are battling to pay their bills when you've got power increases and the rest of it."
Grab A Bite Takeaway owner Elizabeth Berriman said it was hard to juggle a rate increase on top of everything else.
"With COVID happening and all the lockdowns, just the added pressure of trying to juggle work and home and bills on top of that with limited income coming in, it makes it hard, especially when you've got kids in high school that are doing the same," she said.
"[A freeze] would help for a little while, especially when you've got limited income because of lockdowns and no money going around.
"It'd be nice to actually see your rates being put to good use, especially with potholes everywhere. You'd be alright with increases if you could actually see it going back into the community."
City of Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney said the opportunity to pay by monthly instalment provided an easier payment option.
"After holding rates to a zero per cent increase in 2020-21, this year's rates will reflect the rising costs associated with delivering the crucial infrastructure and services needed to support the growing Ballarat community," he said.
"This critical revenue, combined with $58.8 million in state and federal government grants, supports more than 80 City of Ballarat services and 120-plus capital works projects to be delivered by council this financial year."
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