Max rate rise set

January 14, 2022 BY

Capped: City of Ballarat acting CEO Matt Wilson said this year’s budget will need to be well planned and well delivered. Photo: FILE

VICTORIAN municipalities will again be limited in how much they can put up property rates next financial year, with the maximum allowed remaining under two per cent.

The new rate cap of 1.75 per cent was announced by the State Government at the end of last year, up from the current limit of 1.5 per cent, the lowest since the current process – known as Fair Go Rates system – was introduced in 2016.

City of Ballarat director of community wellbeing and acting CEO Matt Wilson said after freezing rates in the 2020/21 budget, this year’s increase could see an extra $2 million in revenue.

“But whilst that is welcome, many costs within delivery of services and infrastructure and local government increases by more than that 1.75 per cent rate being implemented,” he said.

Mr Wilson said when the budget is planned, fees and charges may increase for residents.

“We consider whether we raise or freeze fees based on the annual budget process,” he said.

“Fees and charges do represent a way of offsetting the cost of delivery of essential and critical services so it’s appropriate for us to review those fees and charges accordingly.”

Mr Wilson also said the municipality will continue to advocate higher levels of government to ensure there is enough money for infrastructure and services.

“The rate increase cap really emphasises the need for sound and strong partnership between Federal and State governments and local government, so we get good and successful attraction of other government funding through grants and other programs towards our municipal services and infrastructure,” he said.

“In the Ballarat context, that partnership is really strong and it’s a very positive aspect of the local relationship setting.

“For us, it’s really about making sure we continue to be well planned and well delivered in the context of the rate capped environment.”

Set by the State Government, the rate cap is the maximum rates can increase across the municipality in a financial year.

Councils don’t have to increase rates by 1.75 per cent. For the 2021/22 financial year the Rural City of Ararat cut municipal rates by 1.5 per cent.

Regardless of the cap, some rate payers may see the amount they are billed increase by more than the limit, as individual rates are calculated on property value.