Read what the fuss is about in the Herald Sun’s Victorian Government moves to cap council rates article, by Matt Johnson, 19 Oct 2015:
“VICTORIAN households have been whacked with average rate hikes of 6 per cent a year for the past decade, adding hundreds of dollars to family budgets.
Ten councils have jacked up their charges by more than 7 per cent a year since 2006-07, while every local government other than Melbourne City has had a minimum 4 per cent annual increase.
As a result, average rate bills are now about $700 higher than a decade ago.
Data was supplied to the Sunday Herald Sun by the Andrews Government ahead of a decision on how it will implement a rate capping election promise.
The biggest percentage increase for rural councils was Golden Plains, at 8.9 per cent a year, while Banyule had the highest metropolitan average increase of 6.9 per cent.
Labor will announce soon whether it will accept Essential Services Commission recommendations for a cap of about 3.05 per cent — or about $55 — next year.
While Labor promised a consumer price index cap before the election, the ESC wants two inflation measures to work out the limit, in recognition of council costs.
The Coalition said this would be a broken promise by the Andrews Government.
“Victorians have had enough of never-ending rate increases,” Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said.
“This data shows that on average over the past 10 years, Victorians have faced a rate increase of nearly 6 per cent a year.”
The Government will send councils to the ESC to hike rates above inflation, for reasons such as natural disasters.
“The best councils keep a tight rein on budgets, and only spend what it takes to get a job done well,” Victorian Local Governance Association president Sebastian Klein said.
He said rural councils would suffer under a severe cap because they had a lower number of rateable properties with a lot of roads and infrastructure in need of repair.
Mr Klein said, in one case, the community of a council backed a 12 per cent rate rise to fix bridges and roads.
“The best outcome is if it encourages councils to genuinely talk to their communities about the priorities required to meet their needs,” he said.”