Council Rates increase 2016/17 – community comment

22 April 2016
Rating Charge Changes Proposed in Draft Budget
Shoalhaven City Council General Manager, Mr Russ Pigg, has outlined that there are some proposed changes in this year’s draft budget, which will impact on the amount of rates charged across the City.

“When Council is preparing the budget for the new financial year, it considers revenue generated from rates and charges,” said Mr Pigg.

“Council is limited to a maximum percentage that can be raised from certain rates and charges by the Minister for Local Government, and this year the rate peg amount is 1.8%.”

“Council uses a combination of a base amount and ad valorem rate when applying rates to properties, and rates are calculated based on the property land value.”

”All rateable land is categorised either Residential, Business, Farmland or Mining. Currently, Council also has a number of sub categories which are dependant on the dominant use of the land.”

“Historically, there have been differences in Council’s rating across the different categories. The intention in this year’s budget, is to remove or lessen these differences, to create a fairer and more consistent rates system.”

“During the last six months, Council has been engaging with representatives of the business community to examine the equities of business rates across the City. A consultancy firm was engaged to assist in this review.”

“The review follows several years of lobbying from the Nowra CBD ratepayers who believed that their rates were overly high compared to the rest of the City.”

“As a result of the review, all sub categories of business will now be charged one base rate of $505.00 - the same base rate as a residential property and a flat ad valorem rate equal to that charged for a residential property.”

“Council will recoup an additional $500K through a small increase in the ad valorem applied equally across all business properties. This reflects the additional level of services they receive from Council.”

“An additional charge will also be added to Nowra CBD businesses rate reflecting the additional promotion and budget allocation they receive. However, overall, Nowra CBD businesses will experience a significant reduction in their rates.”

“This means, that across the City there are significant reductions in rates for businesses in Nowra and Ulladulla CBDs, and a smaller decrease for businesses in other towns and villages.”

“Residential properties will see an increase on average of $20 over and above the 1.8% increase to make up for the decreases for businesses.”

“Council has considered this is a small price to pay to ensure we keep our businesses viable and competitive given that they provide much needed services and employment for our residents across the City.”

“Previously, different rates levels also existed between Ordinary Farmland and Farmland (Dairy Farms) categories and this is proposed to be equalised, with a flat ad valorem to be charged across all types of farmland.”

“General farmland will see a decrease in rates of -7.3%, an average saving of $148.00 per year, whilst diary farmers will experience an increase in their rates.”

Mayor Joanna Gash said it is important that the differences across ratings categories are removed.

“The rating levels across categories that are currently in place are very old and represent variances which are no longer valid,” said Clr Gash.

“The proposed changes will result in positive benefits for the community and a much fairer system for all.”

“The significant decreases in business rates clearly shows that Council is supporting businesses, our local businesses, especially small business, and the economic benefits of this are significant for all residents and for our City.”

“The resulting increase that residential properties will experience is vastly outweighed by the benefits to the economy as a whole.”

“This small increase will quickly be counteracted by the return in investment businesses will make in our local area and in turn provide back to residents.”

“Businesses provide growth and employment for Shoalhaven’s residents and this needs to be recognised when assessing the proposed changes.”

“The proposed changes to farmland rates also provide equity and consistency across all farmland types, and no longer provides any special preference for a particular type of farmer.”

“Farmland rates continue to be rated at a much lower ad valorem rate, to reflect the need to support these primary producers and Council is committed to ensuring these producers continue to be supported into the future.”

“There is an opportunity to provide feedback on these proposed changes throughout the exhibition period, which started on 20 April and runs until 18 May 2016.

“During the exhibition period there will be a number of public meetings and I am hoping that residents and business owners turn up and engage in a sensible debate of these proposed changes to the budget,” said Clr Gash.

All members of the community are invited to have a say with public meetings being held as follows:

Wednesday 27th April 2016 7pm Lady Denman Huskisson
Thursday 28th April 2016 7pm Nowra School of Arts
Wednesday 4th May 2016 7pm Ulladulla Civic Centre

The draft plan and budget can be viewed online at www.shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au.

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