New rating system proposed

LATROBE City Council has announced it will investigate ways to broaden its rating system to cater for the aging population, over the next 12 months.

Last week, councillors voted to review its rating strategy and investigate the use of a ‘differential rating system’, which would include a reduced rate for retirement village residents.

Currently, council employs two differential rates, which includes more than 35,000 general properties and 1300 farming properties.

Council has identified about 390 properties as being a member of a retirement village.

The investigation follows Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village’s submissions to council to consider a 25 per cent reduction to the amount of rates paid by residents.

Victoria’s Brimbank, Frankston and Knox City councils currently offer a differential rate system for retirement villages.

“We believe our situation is different to that of the general community and consideration should be given by council to grant a reduction in our rates,” Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village spokesperson Jim Churchill said.

“We are deemed to be living on private land and as such are not entitled to such services as road maintenance, footpath maintenance, power for street lighting, upkeep of kerb and gutters and street sweeping.

“These services are paid for out of our service fees and deferred fees so residents are in effect paying twice for these.”

Latrobe City councillor Bruce Lougheed said investigating differential rates was a “step in the right direction” and encouraged officers to “start looking at it now”.

As a representative of the Municipality Association of Victoria, Cr Lougheed said it was not uncommon for councils to have a differential rate systems for aged care facilities.

According to council, introducing differential rates would not increase the total of rates collected, but rather redistribute the rates.

Investigation into the differential rating system is expected to be concluded prior to the 2013/14 council budget process.