|In March and April, Council held eight Community Conversations across the Shire which provided an update on previous farmer consultations, an early draft of the 2017/2018 Annual Budget and discussed Council’s expression of interest for a rates cap variation. |
What is the rates cap? The Victorian Government’s Fair Go Rates System (FGRS) came into effect in 2016 and limits the maximum increase in council rates to 2% for 2017/2018 .
In circumstances where this rate cap is insufficient for a council’s needs, the council can apply to the Essential Services Commission for a higher cap.
To enable us to continue to provide day-to-day community services (such as community care, kindergartens, libraries, swimming pools, community development activities and community and business grants) and maintain our infrastructure (like roads and buildings) at the levels required by our community, Hindmarsh Shire Council is preparing an application seeking a higher rate cap.
In doing so, we are considering the challenges we face from diminishing external sources of funding like government grants, opportunities to make savings and create efficiencies, the – compared to metropolitan municipalities – already limited number of services available to our residents, and our community which faces its own challenges of older age, lower incomes and relative isolation.
We know that 2% above the rate cap would provide an additional $144,000 for our budget.
That’s the equivalent of an extra
• 1km rural sealed pavement reconstruction; or
• 450m sealing unsealed street; or
• 4.5km gravel re-sheet; or
• 80km shape dry weather road; or
• 165km grading; or
• 165m kerb & channel replacement; or
• 800m of footpath.
On the other hand, for our community, a 2% increase above the rate cap would mean an additional cost.
A $150,000 residential property would pay an additional $26/annum at the regular 2% rate cap, or $43/annum if the cap was increased to 4%.
A $750,000 rural property would pay an additional $78/annum at the regular 2% rate cap, or $154/annum at 4%.
Altogether we are pursuing three things:
1. We are creating efficiencies and savings within our business;
2. We are continuing to seek additional funding from the state and federal governments; and
3. We are pursuing a variation to the rates cap.
Should the variation request be successful, we expect to use the additional funds to bring a roads project forward which otherwise would be delayed to the next budget in 2018/19.
We would like to hear from you what services and infrastructure are most important to you and whether bringing road works forward, at the cost of a higher rate increase, matches with your priorities.
Council will decide whether the variation of the rates cap, if approved by the Commission, will be implemented during its 2017/18 Annual Budget process.
To share your thoughts, download the feedback form or head to Survey Monkey by clicking on the link below.