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Councils Tackle Rating Issues

19 August 2004

Three or five year "rolling" valuations may replace annual valuations for Council property taxes if a proposal from the Local Government Association gains Council and Parliamentary support.

The move would be aimed at protecting ratepayers from volatile annual property valuations by averaging valuations used to calculate rates over more than one year.

A special meeting of the LGA State Executive Committee today endorsed a comprehensive package to address ongoing concerns about Council rates including the use of "rolling" valuations.

LGA President, Cr John Legoe said the package was aimed at improving the fairness of Council's only tax, identifying short-term options which could see Legislative amendments before the next rating period, and more detailed research into Council funding, infrastructure and service issues.

"The Local Government leadership is committed to finding the fairest possible system," he said.

Cr Legoe said the package which the LGA would take to State Government, Councils and the community would include:

  • An independent inquiry into the sustainability of funding for Local Government;
  • A review of the relationship between valuations and property taxes;
  • An independent audit of Council processes;
  • Development of an index of movements in Council's costs;
  • A review of Council complaint mechanisms and visibility of the Ombudsman's role;
  • A proposed State/Local Financial Reform Agreement to address 'cost shifting'; and
  • A campaign to achieve equity in Commonwealth funding to SA Councils.

"The meeting believed Councils have virtually exhausted the current options in the Act and that changes are possible before the next rating year," he said.

The package would be circulated widely for comment on immediate options and on the form of the independent inquiry, and its terms of reference.

"Answers will depend on Parliamentary support and feedback from people who have been hit by the impact of sharply rising house values on property taxes," he said.

"There is no doubt that these issues have challenged Councils across the State but I am heartened that Local Government's leaders are committed to finding solutions."

Cr Legoe said that documentation on the package would be finalised next week and made available widely for comment. Prior to the meeting Cr Legoe met with 7 Members of Parliament who had expressed concerns regarding the impact of Council rates.

Click here to view more information and the package - now finalised: http://www.lga.sa.gov.au/goto/resourcing.

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