Lower Council rates growth ‘no excuse’ for better managing impacts
|8 October 2004
(See AGM outcomes summary below)
Councils attending the Local Government Association's AGM today were told that local property tax revenue in Australia as a percentage of GDP was lower than in the US, Canada, France, Japan and the UK, among other countries.
In real terms per capita, Council rates revenue had only risen 50% over 35 years compared to Federal tax revenue growth of 160% and growth in States' tax revenue of 262%.
LGA Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Chris Russell told delegates that these comparative statistics provided by the SA Centre for Economic Studies should not be an excuse for SA Councils not to manage the impact of volatile annual property valuations more effectively.
"Council transparency in providing annual rates notices which allow people to see their full rates liability is an advantage for Councils in stimulating healthy public debate about what we do - compared with other governments whose taxes are far less visible," he said.
He also said some Councils had not responded effectively to the uneven growth in property valuations which had led to significant numbers of people paying less rates and some paying significantly more than average rates in recent years.
"We need to do better," he said.
The meeting endorsed LGA led action to address Council rates concerns. On Thursday delegates also heard from the LGA in Queensland on how rolling annual valuations could be used to smooth volatile annual property valuations.
Council on the Ageing - National Seniors SA Executive Director Ian Yates also emphasised the importance of Local Government aged care services to seniors in the debate about resourcing Councils and offered to work with the LGA on rate deferral schemes and other solutions.
In other developments at the LGA AGM:
LGA President John Legoe was confirmed as President for a further 12 months. LGA Vice-Presidents will be elected at a special meeting of the LGA State Executive Meeting later in October.
Cr Legoe told the meeting that LGA and Australian LGA lobbying meant SA Councils had commitments for up to $150m additional Federal local road funding over the next five years than at the start of the year.
He introduced the LGA's annual report in CD-Rom format highlighting for 2003/04:
- The signing of a State-Local Government Relations agreement with Premier Rann;
- Adoption of a plan with the State Government to tackle priority stormwater issues in metropolitan Adelaide;
- More than 50 Councils using a new web publishing engine;
- Achievement of a significant role for Councils in new Natural Resources Management arrangements;
- Multi-million dollar savings for ratepayers from Councils jointly sourcing liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, finance, superannuation, electricity and other needs;
- More than 1,600 Council Members and staff attending training programs;
- Significant development of Council online services;
- A major Commonwealth report backing SA Councils claims of unfair treatment in Federal funding.
As a result of the meeting:
- The LGA's action plan to address Council rates concerns was endorsed;
- Progress was noted on the LGA-led review of Local Government elections and representation - with a report expected later in October;
- The failure of the National Packaging Covenant to reduce packaging waste was noted;
- Concern was expressed at the cost implications of proposed reforms to Country landfill standards by the Environment Protection Authority;
- A project involving Local Government in road safety strategies was noted;
- Most Councils with Septic Tank Effluent Drainage Schemes were urged to increase charges for the schemes or risk their future viability.
Motions put forward by individual Councils for consideration of the AGM:
- resolved to support a bid to increase untied Federal Funding to Councils to 2% of Cwlth tax revenue - moved Mt Remarkable
- decided to seek State support for a system to ensure developers who damage Council footpaths and roads are made to pay to fix the damage rather than leave ratepayers to pick up the bill - Mitcham
- supported a bid to give Council more effective powers to protect local heritage - Mitcham
- decided to seek State support to assist Councils deal with illegally dumped rubbish with signs that illegal dumping is increasing since State landfill levies were doubled to fund Zero Waste SA - Mallala
- resolved to draw the Commonwealth's attention to the acute shortage of dentists in regional SA - Grant
- supported a motion asking the State Government to investigate allowing refugees on Temporary Protection Visas to stay in SA to address labor shortages and regional population issues - Norwood Payneham & St Peters
- sought a review of the electricity vegetation clearance regulations - Norwood Payneham & St Peters
- questioned why Telstra has not discontinued action over court costs related to rateability of telecommunications infrastructure on public land when Optus has done so - Burnside
For further information:
Cr John Legoe, President Mobile 0407 417 314
Ms Wendy Campana, Executive Director Mobile 0417 861 783
Mr Chris Russell, Director, Policy & Public Affairs Mobile 0417 830 105