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Council rate change

by
February 06, 2018

A simpler, easier-to-understand rates system has been proposed, marking a possible overhaul to the way Greater Shepparton City Council organises rate revenue.

Under the proposal, the council would reduce the number of rates categories from about 10 to three, while the contentious municipal charge would be slashed by more than $60 a property.

Corporate services director Chris Teitzel said the council wanted to make the way rates were collected from properties as fair as possible, ensuring an even spread of rates burden.

Mr Teitzel said the new framework was easier to understand and simpler to administer.

Under the proposed change, median property value residential and commercial rates are expected to drop slightly, while median property value industrial and farm rates are expected to rise marginally.

But the municipal charge — described as a flat, identical charge that contributes to operational expenses — is also proposed to be reduced from more than $260 to less than $200.

The council is asking which rating system — the current or the new proposed one — residents want more.

The council would continue to apply a differential rating system in the proposed option, but it would merge the commercial and industrial rate types into one rate type and merge residential types into a single type.

Capital improved value would continue to be the basis of valuation for rating purposes in the new framework and it would continue to apply differential rating as its system.

Mr Teitzel hoped the ‘‘more efficient’’ proposed system would make it ‘‘easier to understand where people fit into the mix’’.

If the new proposal was endorsed, it would mark a further stripping back of rating categories across a number of years.

Mr Teitzel said the council had noticed difficulty in understanding the different rates categories and fielded questions as to why some industrial and commercial properties were asked for higher rates than others.

‘‘There’s nothing wrong with staying with what we have, but there’s a certain confusion each year when rate notices go out, particularly in that commercial, industrial sector,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re trying to make sure we’re not unduly impacting one part of the community more than another.

‘‘There’s always complaints from various sectors, saying the level of service you get (across categories) is fairly consistent.’’

Mr Teitzel believed the overall impact overall from the proposed change would be minimal.

‘‘There will be individual properties that go up and down,’’ he said.

‘‘This sort of change will have an impact on some businesses more than others — that’s unavoidable.’’

Whichever option is adopted will be effective from July.

Drop-in information sessions are planned for next week. For information, visit www.greatershepparton.com.au

Lump sum not coming back

The lump sum rate payment option, removed last year, would not be returned in Greater Shepparton City Council’s proposed new rating framework.

Council’s corporate services director Chris Teitzel doused any suggestion the option would return going forward.

The council last year received no submissions to its rating strategy.

But when it later removed a full payment option, some ratepayers were unhappy at having to pay each quarter.

Council eventually agreed to accept full payment with no interest charged if received this month.

‘‘We’re not reviewing payment arrangements, we’re not proposing any changes,’’ Mr Teitzel said of any new rating strategy.

‘‘The lump sum payment option, won’t be there in future at this stage.’’

Speaking on the decision to allow full rates payment without interest for this financial year, Mr Teitzel said the council had to ‘‘flex that this year to give people time to get used to it’’.

He said the quarterly payment option had been ‘‘quite high’’, with the move to spread payments across the year broadly accepted.

As such, the council was seeing a lower levels of outstanding rates compared to previous years.

‘‘We’re linking it back to that,’’ he said.

Mr Teitzel said there was still some not happy with the lack of a full payment option, but remained firm it would not be an option going forward.

Councillors had last year flagged concerns about the removal of the option, but it was unanimously voted for, after a period of public comment where no submissions were received.

Historically, council has found it difficult to canvass opinion and attract submissions on its rating strategy, meaning community feedback has been in short supply.

Mr Teitzel said by getting on the front foot ahead of the budget process, the hope was valuable feedback on the strategy would not be overlooked.

He said the community had overlooked the rating strategy among last year’s budget and council plan drafting.

This has fed the decision for a feedback process outside the budget cycle to prevent it becoming a distraction.

‘‘We’re hoping to capture community comment now, to get it right, or at least understand community sentiment,’’ he said.

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