For many residents, it’s no longer a surprise to see that the Moreland City Council has increased their council rates bill. Over the past ten years, the council has increased rates in our area by 5.6%. The solution to this growing problem is something most councillors care to ignore, putting it in the too hard basket.
In Moreland City area, average property values in 2016 increased by around 19%. As council rates are calculated with property valuation, this puts pressure on those who have lived in their home for some time but didn’t necessarily expect to pay such hefty charges.
As one Brunswick West resident told me in the campaign “Council rates do have to go up, but is property valuation fair, considering rates need to consider new developments, shouldn’t we be paying less?”
This argument is something I’ve heard a lot when knocking on local doors and talking to the community.
Rate capping from the state government
In 2015, the Andrews Labor Government introduced rate cap measures that require councils to adjust general rates based on the amount set by the state government, which factor in changing costs, and ensure that rate increases are fair for the local community. In 2016/17 financial year, this amount was 2.5%.
If your property value has increased more than the average 19%, your rates will go up more than 2.5%.
Councils also have the ability to apply for a greater rates increase percentage after making an application to the Essential Services Commission. Some reasons for doing so may be to support community services or to embark on infrastructure renewal programs.
Rate capping policy like this from the state Labor government is a good outcome for the community. It means councils like Moreland have to prove why they need to go over the recommended increase and it puts pressure on councils to rethink their spending, ensuring it is meeting community needs.
The Victorian Department of Human Services provides pension and DVA card holders with a concession for rate bills. The DHS say this is a 50% discount, but it is only a maximum $218.30 for 2015-2016.
This concession is barely one-third of a rate bill for many residents, who may have a bill over $3000.
The solution to the rising Moreland City Council rates issue
The rate cap legislation by the Andrews Labor Government is a step in the right direction to ensure greater transparency around rates. However, we need to go further by ensuring those vulnerable are not worse off in our community.
Actions that can be taken, and I’m passionate about raising with state government and fellow councillors include:
– Asking the Labor state government to review pensioner discounts for rates.
– Review the rate valuation framework. Look at a formula that is driven by fairness.
– Adopt new measures on a council level that look to improve efficiency and ensure we’re using rate payers funds in the right way.
Have your say on rates
Share your view or ideas on the rates issue below. I’m keen to hear from you.