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Disappointing response to rating review

Disappointing response to rating review

Published:
Thursday 31 December 2020

Bass Coast Shire Council is disappointed with the lack of meaningful rates reform by the State Government following its recent Rating Strategy Review.

The State Government released its long awaited final report and its response to the 56 recommendations identified in the Review, on 21 December.

In 2019, Council made a submission to the review and Council’s CEO Ali Wastie was a member of the Municipal Association of Victoria’s taskforce that also made a submission.

Ms Wastie said the current COVID-19 environment reduced the Government’s appetite to reform the current rating system.

“We are disappointed with the lack of action to address the divide in rating capacity between metropolitan and rural and regional councils and hope this is addressed when the rate capping system is reviewed at the end of 2021. I see this as a missed opportunity,” Ms Wastie said.

“The Review also failed to address the inequity faced by declared tourist destinations like Bass Coast, which experience significant visitation and need to build and maintain additional infrastructure and facilities without a financial contribution from the tourists and day trippers.”

One of the more positive outcomes of the Review was the Government’s acceptance, in full, of the Panel’s recommendation that the Local Government Act 1989 describes rates as a tax for Local Government purposes.

“We are pleased that the Government has supported this recommendation,” Ms Wastie said.

“It clarifies for our communities that rates do not constitute a fee for service and that paying more in rates does not entitle a ratepayer to greater service levels.

“Whilst nobody likes paying taxes, Councils only receive around 3.5 cents in every dollar of taxation, yet we are increasingly depended upon to deliver vital community services.

“We know that rates notices attribute to a small amount of taxation paid by a person who is on a moderate income, however, this is not the case for people on low incomes such as pensioners. That is why we have an adopted Financial Hardship Policy that enables eligible people access to rate relief,” Ms Wastie concluded.

For more information on the State Government’s Rating Review, visit www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/ratingreview.