The ESC just released their decisions of the rates variation applications submitted by a number of councils. They are:
9 out of 79 councils (11%) applied and 67% of applicants received approvals. This shows at least 89% of councils have the capacity to lower rates – if we include the 3 unsuccessful rate variation applications, the real figure is 73 councils or 92% can afford lower rates for their communities.
The full report of the rational decisions and underpinning reasons are found in Overview-of-Local-Government-higher-cap-decis…pdf (159kb) and there is the Q&A resource Approving higher caps – Questions and Answers.
We anticipate several councils and highly possibility peak bodies will be spilling “blood” in the street, with ESC the main target. If and when this behaviour reaction realises, then a lot will be revealed about and confirm the good governance culture of our councils and their peak bodies.
The decision report is rational, of high professional quality and based on very clear decision criteria that were well communicated upfront before the rates variation process commenced. Applicants also had many opportunities to consult with the ESC, to ensure their applications meet the criteria.
Local Government Victoria (LGV), representing the state department of municipal local government , is pursuing a rates capping policy. Minister Natalie Hutchins heads up this state department, which operates through a decentralised structure of 79 councils. The objectives of this rates capping policy is to “contain council rates growth and develop greater transparency and accountability in rates setting” (ESC, 2015). The reasons for this policy ie because of long standing and current systematic inefficiency, transparency and accountability in councils’ rates setting practices.
The Essential Service Commission (ESC) has been instructed to conduct a consultative review and recommend a rates capping and variation framework for implementing this policy by the 31 Oct, 2015. Ratepayers were among the other stakeholders invited to provide inputs to ESC.
RVI and many other ratepayer groups’ representatives attended the first meeting with the ESC team on Tuesday the 12 May, 2015 in Level 37, 2 Lonsdale St. There was genuine consultation and the exchange of information was valuable and heartfelt.
RVI, together with Monash and Knox ratepayer groups submitted a report responding to the ESC consultation paper.
RVI’s response can be found in the ESC site, which was submitted 18 May 2015 – http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/Local-government/Local-Government-Rates-Capping-Framework-Review/Consultation-Paper-Local-Government-rates-capping/Submissions.
The key highlights of this RVI’s response is that ratepayers support the rates capping policy 110% and will support LGV in making it work. We also highlight the power struggle between LGV and MAV, VGLA and councils in controlling the LG sector, reflected in the strong and coordinated resistance against and groupthink challenge to opposing rates capping. We also met with LGV to express our strong support for the policy.
We will keep everyone posted on progress updates.