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Council radically reviews rates

12 March, 2018

Council has adopted a radical new rates system that will be fairer for all ratepayers.
 
At a Special Meeting today Council agreed to:
  • Continue to develop a budget based on a 0% increase in revenue;
  • Cap rate rises to offset increased state government land valuations; 
  • Apply the discount to all ratepayers and not just those who are able to pay upfront;  
  • Decrease the interest charged on overdue rates.
“This is a milestone for the Fraser Coast and makes our rating system fairer and equitable,” Acting Mayor George Seymour said.
 
“We know that ratepayers have been struggling and these changes will make the rates fairer.”
 
Other changes include combining the general rates, water and sewerage charges into one notice that will be issued three times a year.
 
“The changes are in line with recommendations put forward by the Rating Reference Group, which was made up of residents, and a review of our rates system by an independent consultant,” Cr Seymour said.
 
“Council adopted the first phase of the Rating Reference Group recommendations in the budget last year and will implement the second round of recommendations in the 2018-19 budget to deliver a fairer, simpler, more efficient and more equitable approach to rating.”
 
Applying the discount to all ratepayers was fairer, Finance Portfolio Councillor Rolf Light said.
 
“Under the former system if you could not pay up front you did not receive the discount; and if you missed a payment you paid interest straight away,” he said.
 
“Under this new system Council will lower all rates by the discount amount and the interest charged will be lower than the 11% allowed under legislation.”
 
The changes also mean that the discounts on water and waste charges will also stop.
 
“It is hard to recommend a discount on water and sewage when the amount charged is a service fee to cover the cost of the water that has been used or the sewage that has been treated,” Cr Light said.
 
The introduction of a single rates notice, issued three times a year, will also benefit ratepayers.
 
“The current method of issuing one annual general rates notice and three water notices a year with overlapping due dates and differing discount periods is confusing,” Cr Seymour said.
 
“Ratepayers will now receive three notices throughout the year.
 
“The change will help people better plan and budget for their rates.”
 
The changes are a result of consultation with residents, Cr Light said.
 
“We have heard the calls that the Fraser Coast rates are too high and we’ve been working as a team to streamline our rates,” he said.
 
“The changes will also cut administration costs and those savings can be passed back onto ratepayers.
 
“We are committed to continually improving our services to benefit ratepayers.”