Council releases draft Rates Policy and Strategy

Published on 30 January 2019

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An increased discount for farmers is among several proposed changes to the way Horsham Rural City Council rates are calculated across the next five years.

At its January meeting on Tuesday night, Councillors formally received the Rates Strategy Advisory Committee’s independent report - formed after two months of deliberation and public consultation.

Others proposed changes include a five per cent discount for the commercial and industrial sectors, while the residential ratepayer sector will pay a higher portion of the rate burden.

The subsequent draft Rating Policy(PDF, 489KB) and draft Rating Strategy 2019-23(PDF, 759KB) is now available to the public and submissions will be accepted until Thursday 7 March 2019.  

The Rates Strategy Review Advisory Committee’s final discussion paper will also be made available on Council’s website.

Major changes to Council’s existing Rating Strategy

  1. Farm Differential – a further discount of 13% is proposed for the farm sector taking the differential from 80% down to 67% of the general rate.
  2. Commercial and Industrial Differentials – a discount of 5% is proposed for the Commercial and Industrial sectors making the differential 95% of the general rate.
  3. Flat Municipal Charge – the fixed dollar municipal charge per property will be reduced from $287 to $200.
  4. Pensioner Rebates – Council will give a $30 per property rebate for all eligible pensioners in addition to the state funded pensioner rebate that already exists.
  5. Differential Review Trigger – that a trigger of +/- 5% relative valuation movement per sector be used as a basis to trigger a review of the differentials provided to all sectors.

Horsham Rural City Council Chief Executive Officer Sunil Bhalla said the changes were not yet finalised.

“The next stage of the process is to seek further feedback from the community on the draft Rating Strategy and Policy,” Mr Bhalla said.

“The way that Council rates work, is that if you want someone to pay less, someone else has to pay more in order to maintain Council services each year.

“So we want to make certain everyone has a chance to fully understand what the changes in the draft 2019-23 Strategy and Policy mean,” he said.

Mr Bhalla said Councillors would consider submissions received across the next five weeks and make any changes accordingly.

“Each person’s opinion is important and I encourage everyone who wants to have their say to do so via the correct channels,” he said.

Councillors resolved to undertake the Rates Review in August 2018 in response to strong opinion expressed from the farming sector after last year’s Rates Strategy consultation period had closed. 

The nine-person Rates Strategy Advisory Committee was then appointed to provide independent advice on a fair and equitable distribution of the rate burden across all sectors of the community.

The Committee was facilitated by an independent chairperson with assistance from an independent consultant and received feedback from the community through an on-line survey, face-to-face meetings during several community drop-in sessions and through formal submissions.