Rate Capping Bill Introduced Today

The Minister for Local Government, MP Natalie Hutchins, is thanking RVI and its networks of ratepayer-advocates for helping to collate grass-root feedback from ratepayers and residents, which provided valuable insights to help justify and developing the draft rate capping policy, which is now introduced into Parliament.

She wrote………….

“In the nearly twelve months since being elected, the Andrews Government has been getting on with delivering the things that matter to Victorians.

In the local government space that means giving ratepayers greater value, more of a say, and a better understanding of the work their councils are doing.

And with your help, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Key to this has been our ‘Fair Go Rates’ system, which has now been introduced to the Parliament.

In Victoria, council rates have averaged close to six per cent rise every year for the past ten years.

As Ratepayers Victoria knows – it’s unsustainable, and it’s unfair.

That’s why we developed the Fair Go Rates system.

It’s not about stopping councils providing quality services and facilities.

And it’s not about cutting existing budgets.

It’s about giving ratepayers greater surety about what their rates bill will look like into the future. It’s about ensuring greater value for money.

And it’s about encouraging councils to listen and engage when it comes to the needs of their community.

While the Fair Go Rates system imposes a cap on rate rises, it doesn’t mean new projects can’t be funded.

In fact, it will encourage better-planned projects , with more consideration of what the community needs.

If a council has a project that requires it to go above the rate cap, it will have to demonstrate to the Essential Services Commission that an increase is warranted.

Councils will have to consult with the community and make a case for the increase before it’s approved.

I’d like to thank Ratepayers Victoria for their feedback as we developed a framework for the Fair Go Rates system. Hearing from residents and ratepayers on the ground has been invaluable.

Together we can ensure the community gets more of a say – and that councils are listening.”

Click here to read the final ESC report that was submitted to Parliament today. Read more of the introduced bills through this official media release.  Today’s Herald Sun also wrote about the introduced bills (see article dated 20 Oct 2015), reporting that:

“VICTORIAN councils will be forced to cap rate rises at the state’s key cost of living benchmark, under new laws that should save families hundreds of dollars.

And councils that “deliberately and repeatedly” defy the new limit will face the sack.

But the Herald Sun understands draft legislation, to be introduced to State Parliament on Wednesday, allows the local government minister to reduce or increase the cap in exceptional circumstances.

Councils also would be able to argue to the Essential Services Commission for exemptions if they could prove community support, and justify the need, for more spending.

The laws would see the Andrews Government fulfil a key election promise to cap rate rises at the Melbourne Consumer Price Index — despite ESC advice that it should be watered down.

The Melbourne CPI increased by just 1.1 per cent in the past year. Next year, when the new laws would apply, it has been forecast to increase by 2.75 per cent.

This is less than half the average rate rise over the past decade, and would mean the average rates increase next year would be $50 or less.

A final decision on the percentage cap will be made each December, when the State Government’s midyear economic update is released with inflation forecasts.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins declined to comment because the Bill was not yet before Parliament.

But Ms Hutchins told the Sunday Herald Sun this week that “Victorians have had enough of never-ending rate increases”.

“Victorians expect greater value, more of a say, and a better understanding of the work their councils are doing — that’s exactly what our Fair Go Rates cap will do,” she said last week.

Opposition Local Government spokesman David Davis last night said Premier Daniel Andrews should have capped rates this year, and it was “imperative that he be forced to keep his promise from here on in because family budgets depend on it”.

Rates have risen an average of 6 per cent a year over the past decade.

The Municipal Association of Victoria released data on Tuesday showing state property taxes grew by 7.1 per cent in the past decade, after the Government released rates data.

Councillor Bill McArthur, MAV president, said “this year Victorian councils worked hard to keep average rate increases to a 10-year low of 3.8 per cent while still providing more than 100 vital community services and maintaining $73 billion of infrastructure” “

The comments of this article says alot about community sentiments for councils and their peak bodies. Lovely people.

 RVI also issued a press release today: