Rating Review Response Released
The Minister for Local Government has released the final report of the Local Government Rating System Review and the Government response to its 56 recommendations. These are published at https://engage.vic.gov.au/rating-review.
The Government response will support ratepayers in financial hardship, improve transparency and consistent decision-making across councils. It will examine the merits of a valuation averaging mechanism for rates to lessen the impact of large annual property value movements.
Reforms to system administration and ways to give councils improved tools for waste charges, special rate and charge schemes and more flexible rate concessions will also be pursued.
The Government will not be making any substantial changes to the arrangements for general rates and rate exemptions under the Local Government Act 1989 and alternative rating arrangements under the Electricity Industry Act 2000 and the Cultural and Recreational Lands Act 1963.
Local Government Victoria will provide a local government technical briefing on the final report and the Government’s response in January 2021. An invitation will be sent to council CEOs once a date and time is confirmed.
The Victorian Budget 2020/21 was tabled in Parliament by Treasurer Tim Pallas on November 24.
This year’s budget focuses on people - protecting and creating jobs, looking after families, building strong and connected communities, and setting Victoria up for a strong recovery.
The Minister’s media release on the Local Government appropriation is available here.
An overview of the key budget highlights for the Local Government portfolio:
- $75 million for critical infrastructure in local communities through the Growing Suburbs Fund.
- $13.3 million over two years for the Living Libraries Infrastructure Program and the Public Libraries Program to help local councils and regional libraries renew, redesign or rebuild libraries.
- $2.79 million for the Roadside Weeds and Pests Program.
- $1 million for the Municipal Emergency Resourcing Program (MERP) to help councils with emergency management planning in readiness for major threats like bushfire and flood.
- Councils will be able to access low interest loans from the $100 million Local Government Community Infrastructure Loans Scheme, which is already supporting arts and culture facilities, bike trails and community hubs across the state.
- $6.3 million over two years for the Women Building Surveyors Program, giving women an opportunity to take on surveyor cadetships in local government.
You can also visit the Victorian Budget 2020-21 website to see the full range of initiatives that are funded through this year’s budget.
Draft Quick Guide on Personal Interests Returns now available
Councillors must lodge a Personal Interests Return with council within 30 days of taking the oath or affirmation of office.
LGV has worked with a small group of council officers on developing a draft Quick Guide on Personal Interests Returns.
Personal Interests Returns are a new requirement under the Local Government Act 2020. They replace all previous requirements and there is new information set out in regulations. The new requirements impact on councillors, council staff and members of delegated committees.
The draft Quick Guide on Personal Interests Returns provides key information on Personal Interests Returns, addresses some FAQs and provides templates that councils can adapt for their own purposes in meeting the deadlines for ensuring councillors, council staff and members of delegated committees can complete returns.
ICT Support for Rural Councils
38 hard-working rural councils have received up to $100,000 each for vital technology to enable virtual meetings and continue community engagement during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The funding from as part of the $3.8 million 2020 Rural Councils ICT Infrastructure Support Program, designed to help rural councils with the costs imposed by COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings and workplaces. It can be used to fund a range of different measures including new audio-visual systems, software, councillor training and equipment.
Under the restrictions, councils have adopted remote working conditions and virtual meetings to keep essential services running, continue consulting with communities and making decisions.
Rural councils face particular challenges meeting the costs of this work, with limited financial resources to fund the training, equipment and other ICT infrastructure required.
A full breakdown of individual councils‘ funding from the ICT support package is available at https://www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au/funding-programs/ict-infrastructure-program
Growing Suburbs Fund Extension Projects Announced
More than 700 jobs and 28 new and upgraded community facilities are on the way for Victoria’s fastest-growing areas thanks to $25 million from the latest round of the Growing Suburbs Fund.
From the new Cowes Cultural and Community Centre in Bass Coast to a new youth hub in Golden Plains, the Fund is investing in much-needed new facilities, creating jobs and giving communities the facilities they need to thrive.
Of the 28 projects, five are in the peri-urban councils eligible to apply to the fund for the first time – Bass Coast, Baw Baw, Moorabool, Golden Plains and Surf Coast, creating more than 150 jobs in these fast-growing communities.
Since its establishment in 2015, the Fund has facilitated $755 million in local infrastructure, created more than 7470 jobs created and supported 221 projects.
A full list of the successful projects is available at https://www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au/grants/growing-suburbs-fund.
For an example of the kind of impact the Fund has made, watch this video about the very first funded project, the Epping Community Services Hub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4-sBK9dyKU&t=110s
Getting ready for the Local Government Act 2020: Community Engagement Policy
Getting your Community Engagement Policy in place by 1 March 2020 is critical to ensuring you can deliver on your community vision, your council plan, your asset plan and your financial plan.
On Thursday, 16 July 2020 more than 155 people from across councils in Victoria came together to discuss how to put their community engagement policy in place. Participants heard from several councils’ experience how they are developing their community engagement policy. You can access a recording of the event here. You can also access the documents referred to in this session here.
In the lead up to this event a number of FAQs were generated and you can access the responses to these FAQs here. We will update this list of FAQs as required.
Register here to join our mailing list. We will provide regular updates through this mailing list.
We encourage councils to continue to access the EngageVic website for updates on community engagement and other issues relating to implementation of the Local Government Act 2020.
2020 Victorian local government elections to proceed via postal vote
In line with advice from the Chief Health Officer local government elections scheduled for October 2020 will proceed via postal vote.
This will be the first time postal voting has been used across all Victorian councils, following changes introduced in the Local Government Act 2020 that require a state-wide and uniform approach to voting.
To ensure the election is safe and follows physical distancing requirements, longer candidate statements will be allowed in the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) Voter Information packs.
View the media release here.
Electoral structure changes
The new Local Government Act 2020 supports closer relationships between councillors and their communities through changes to council electoral structures.
This summary table (DOCX, 292.2 KB) outlines how the changes will affect your council at the 2020 and 2024 elections.
For the 2020 local government elections, 10 councils will be changing to a single member ward or unsubdivided structure.
For more details view the electoral structure changes for the 2020 election.
Page last updated: 22/12/20