Council rates reviewed

LATROBE City council’s recent announcement it would consider a rate differential system for 2013 coincides with the State Government move to regulate rate systems within councils.

A rate differential system refers to varying rates based on different categories of rateable land and was announced in September as a possible avenue to combat land-banking.

Also in support of a changed rate system is the Victorian Farmers Federation who have been actively campaigning for the current system to be reviewed.

“The municipal rating system is no longer viable for Victorian farmers, the cost of production is on the increase and some farmers just can’t cope with the constant increases in their rates bills. We need a fairer system,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

In Victoria, the rating system is based on the valuation of land and its improvements, which Mr Tuohey said resulted in an unfair burden being placed on farm businesses where the land is the income earning asset rather than just a site on which the business is located.

“The time has come for local councils to stop collecting unreasonable rates from farmers,” he said.

Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell recently invited representatives from all political parties in the Victorian parliament to join a consultative committee to help develop new guidelines for the use of differential rates by councils.

Ms Powell wrote to parliamentary parties seeking nominations to the ministerial committee which will lead the consultation with local governments and the community on the use of differential rates.

Latrobe City is one of 14 Victorian councils which currently does not have a differential rate system.