Latrobe rates reprieve

Latrobe City ratepayers will not be hit with a rate increase above the level of inflation after councillors decided not to seek special consideration under the new rate-capping system.

Council had previously notified the Essential Services Commission of its intention to potentially lodge a variation to the capped rate increase of 2.5 per cent.

Latrobe City chief executive Gary Van Driel said council was simply keeping its options open.

“We lodged our intent early on to keep a place mark open to allow the council to work through the budget,” Mr Van Driel told The Express this week.

“Since then we have had a series of budget meetings with councillors.

“Councillors have decided not to pursue a variation, but the details of that will be released when we release the draft budget.”

Mr Van Driel expects the draft budget for the 2016/17 financial year to be released at the next ordinary council meeting, scheduled for 11 April.

If this does not go ahead as planned, a special meeting will be held to release the draft budget for community feedback.

Mr Van Driel would not pre-empt any of council’s priorities in the proposed budget, but he urged the community to read through the draft once released.

“I think council has been very mindful of trimming costs to keep rate increases to a minimum,” he said.

“This council has had a history over the previous three years of delivering rate increases at the lower end of Victorian councils.”

Last year the State Government introduced a Fair Go Rates system that would see rate increases of all Victorian councils capped at the level of CPI.

This was set at 2.5 per cent for the 2016/17 financial year, but councils had the opportunity to apply for a higher cap until today.

The Local Government Minister will set a capped rate increase each year under the Fair Go Rates system.