Rates plan makes sense

February 06, 2018

The new proposed rating strategy pieced together by Greater Shepparton City Council’s finance department seems a more commonsense framework through which to recover rates from land owners.

Fewer categories is almost certain to ensure less confusion.

It seems council has in the past been hit with no shortage of inquiries on why a business zoned in one area stands to pay more in rates than one zoned in another.

Ensuring consistence across property types will hopefully add more clarity.

Rates revenue makes up more than 50 per cent of the council’s total funding. The breakdown of how this is recovered needs to be fair.

And it is pleasing fairness and ensuring the rates burden is shared as equally and fairly as possible is central to reasons behind the major rewrite.

We are yet to see exactly how this plays out, if the changes are even endorsed, but at this early stage the clearer framework seems to be a positive direction to move in.

The removal of the lump sum payment option is unlikely to be met with such positivity.

When the council initially hatched the plan to integrate it for the current financial year, plenty of ratepayers appeared to be inconvenienced and caught by surprise.

While beneficial to the council’s aims, it may remain a sore spot with officers standing firm on the change and the need for ratepayers to get used to quarterly payments instead of a single full-year payment.

The reality is the council had hoped to gauge feedback on these changes last year.

But in the midst of the public consultation process for the council budget and council plan last year, it appears making comment on the rating strategy was overlooked.

So, this year, the council is trying to get on the front foot and separate an initial consultation process for the rating strategy, to ensure it isn’t clouded over.

This demonstrates a welcome move to make sure processes allow for comment to be received.

The most important thing now is for feedback to actually be canvassed by ratepayers.

It is regularly said, but it remains true that it is difficult to criticise changes if when the opportunity was available, comment wasn’t made.

So, we encourage ratepayers to read the changes proposed, attend an information session, and assist in ensuring the fairest rates system possible is adopted.

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