Casey and Cardinia ratepayers are being asked for their views on the application of differential rates by Victoria’s 79 local Councils.
Member for Bass Ken Smith invited all local ratepayers, Councils and other interested organisations to participate in the state-wide consultation process.
“The Local Government Act 1989 previously provided Councils with insufficient guidance regarding the application of differential rates,” Mr Smith said.
“Councils could levy differential rates as long as the highest rate was not more than four times the lowest, was calculated using the capital-improved-value, and contributed to the Council’s efficient and effective operation.”
Member for Gembrook Brad Battin said there had been a significant increase in the use of differential rates and in the inconsistency of their application, raising a number of community concerns.
“As a result, I think it’s important to establish consistent principles to guide Councils in their use,” Mr Battin said.
“A number of farmers across Victoria have expressed concerns regarding the importance of differential farm rates, so the consultation paper specifically seeks community feedback on whether Councils should be required to use reduced farm land rates,” Mr Battin said.
Mr Battin said the Victorian Coalition Government last year amended the Local Government Act 1989 to allow the Minister for Local Government to set differential rating guidelines, and empower the Minister to seek an Order in Council to prevent the application of inconsistent differential rates.
“The Coalition Government is committed to helping guide Councils on the equitable and appropriate application of rates, while making it easier for ratepayers to understand how Council rates are applied,” Mr Battin said.
“I encourage people to have a look at the draft documents, attend the public forum in Pakenham or make a written submission, and have a say on differential rates.”
The draft guidelines were prepared by the Differential Rates Ministerial Committee, comprising Chairman and Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government David Morris, and Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien. Mr Morris said the feedback received on the draft at the forums, meetings with key stakeholders, and through the written submission process would be considered in making a recommendation on the final guidelines for Councils.
“The guidelines and practice notes should provide Councils with information on what they must consider when deciding whether to apply differential rates, and how differential rates will help them to meet the objectives of their community,” Mr Morris said.
The Draft Ministerial Guidelines on Differential Rates and the accompanying discussion paper are available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/localgovernment/projects-and-programs/differential-rates-guidelines
Member for Eastern Victoria Edward O’Donohue said a public consultation will be held locally in Pakenham on Friday 15 February.
“The local public consultation meeting is a great opportunity to provide direct feedback to the Committee on the use of differential rates in our community,” Mr O’Donohue said.
Details about public forums will be published on the website, and advertised in local media. Anyone wishing to provide written feedback on the draft is encouraged to do so though the Department of Planning and Community Development’s website before Thursday 28 February 2013.