Council supports rates review
Bass Coast Shire Council’s submission to the Victorian Government rates review has called for system reforms to improve fairness and equity for all ratepayers.
Council has called on the State Government to deal with outdated exemptions and the limited rating capacity of rural councils.
Bass Coast Shire CEO Ali Wastie said that while the rates focus in metropolitan Melbourne and large regional Local Government Areas (LGA) is mainly about value for money, for rural councils it is about much more.
“Many rural and regional shires don’t have the population base to raise enough revenue to provide the essential services and infrastructure required by their local communities. For these councils, equity cannot be achieved through the rating system,” Ms Wastie said.
“While classified as a large regional council, Bass Coast Shire is facing a number of significant rating and funding challenges that are linked to its high levels of visitation and high number of absentee landlords.
“This profile requires it to fund infrastructure to support large numbers of tourists, while receiving lower compensation from the federal financial assistance grants program than its neighbours.
“Through its submission, Council is seeking urgent action to assist rural and regional shires that are facing a mismatch between their financial capacity and their asset and service responsibilities.”
Ms Wastie said that while no system of taxation is perfect, the fairness and equity of the current Victorian Local Government rating system can and should be improved.
“Ratepayers are unfairly cross-subsidising those who don’t pay rates. State laws currently provide rates exemptions to electricity generators, solar and wind farms, universities and private schools, mining land, Crown land used for commercial purposes, RSL and gaming venues on Crown land and religious property holdings used for commercial purposes,” Ms Wastie said.
“Additional reforms have also been proposed to improve community understanding and fairness of rates, including simplified rates notices, minimum and maximum rates, rating of residential village homes and a tourism levy option in declared tourist destination municipalities.
Council’s submission also requests the State Government to retain the option for differential rating.
“Differential rates are an important part of Victoria’s rating system and a valuable tool that many councils use to better spread the taxation burden between ratepayers. Differential rates can ameliorate the rate burden for disadvantaged ratepayer groups and can also help drive positive behaviours in ratepayer groups,” Ms Wastie said.
“This Review provides an important opportunity to correct the imbalances within the current system. We look forward to seeing the results of the review.”
View Council’s submission at www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/ratesreview.