Councils collect rate payments from home and business land owners to fund important local infrastructure and services. Except for the Fair Go Rates system, which was introduced in 2015, the structure of the rating system has not changed substantially in decades.
Today, at a meeting with Rural Councils Victoria, the Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek announced the scope and terms of the review, which will be carried out by an independent three-person panel.
Led by Panel Chair, Dr Kathy Alexander, the Victorian Local Government Rating System Review will assess;
- current local government rates and charges, collected under the Local Government Act 1989 and a number of related pieces of State legislation;
- the rating system and how it sits alongside other systems, including the State’s taxation and valuation systems;
- current exemptions and concessions on rates; including those that apply to various classes of land, such as farm land, charitable status land and mining land;
- Councils’ autonomy to apply the rating system to meet local needs;
- the impacts any recommended changes would have on councils, businesses and ratepayers.
The review will not consider the rate cap, which will be reviewed separately in 2021.
Victorians will be able to put their views to the panel later this year with councils, peak bodies and the broader community invited to participate in a consultation on local government rates and charges.
The entire review process will conclude in March 2020, when the panel provides their recommendations to the Minister.
The review was announced as part of a $11.2 million election commitment to undertake an inquiry into the council rating system to identify changes that will improve its fairness and equity – this is to ensure that the burden of rates falls fairly amongst all ratepayers.