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Consultation on differential rates

Benalla electorate ratepayers are being asked for their views on the application of differential rates.

February 4, 2013 4:44am

(from left) Member for Northern Victoria Donna Petrovich, Member for Western Victoria David O’Brien, Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell, Member for Mornington and Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government David Morris and Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish at last week’s announcement in Beveridge.


Benalla Electorate ratepayers are being asked for their views on the application of differential rates by Victoria’s 79 local councils.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes has invited all ratepayers, councils and other interested organisations in north-east Victoria to participate in the statewide consultation process.

A public consultation will be held in Benalla on Thursday, February 14 at Benalla Performing Arts Centre (BPACC) from 10am to noon.

Dr Sykes said he was pleased to be sitting on the committee at this meeting.

‘‘The local public consultation meeting is a great opportunity to provide direct feedback to the committee on the use of differential rates in our community,’’ he said.

‘‘The Local Government Act 1989 previously provided councils with insufficient guidance regarding the application of differential rates.

‘‘Councils could levy differential rates as long as the highest rate was not more than four times the lowest, was calculated using the capital-improved-value, and contributed to the council’s efficient and effective operation.

‘‘There’s been a significant increase in the use of differential rates and in the inconsistency of their application, raising a number of community concerns including from farmers and the business sector.

‘‘As a result, I think it’s important to establish consistent principles to guide councils in their use.’’

Dr Sykes said a number of farmers throughout the Benalla Electorate had expressed concerns regarding the importance of differential farm rates, so the consultation paper specifically sought community feedback on whether councils should be required to use reduced farm land rates.

‘‘In addition, the Benalla, Mansfield and Wangaratta VFF branches have all been vocal on this issue,’’ he said.

Dr Sykes said the Victorian Government last year amended the Local Government Act 1989 to allow the Minister for Local Government to set differential rating guidelines, and empowered the Minister to seek an Order in Council to prevent the application of inconsistent differential rates.

‘‘The Coalition Government is committed to helping guide councils on the equitable and appropriate application of rates, while making it easier for ratepayers to understand how council rates are applied,” he said.

‘‘I encourage people to have a look at the draft documents, attend one of the public forums or make a written submission, and have a say on differential rates.’’

The Draft Ministerial Guidelines on Differential Rates and the accompanying discussion paper are available at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/localgovernment/projects-and-programs/differential-rates-guidelines and anyone wishing to provide written feedback on the draft is encouraged to do so though the Department of Planning and Community Development’s website before Thursday, February 28.

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