Council absorbs carbon tax – rates go up only $16

BRIGHTON Council has confirmed that it will absorb the carbon tax impact and restrict rate increases to CPI for the 16th year running, with anticipated increases of just $23 per household.

Mayor Tony Foster said the continuation of Brighton’s fair rating model had been unanimously supported at the April Council meeting

Brighton fairer rating model restricts annual rate rises to no greater than the annual increase in the CPI and provides a flat rate for all residential properties.

Cr Foster said the Council meeting had adopted Brighton’s 2012/13 budget in principal, based on its fair rating model and a rate increase of no greater than CPI.

“The CPI figure will be released on April 24 and based on the final figure, Council expects a residential rate increase around $23 per household and an increase of just $6 for residential land.

“According to the Auditor General’s latest report, Brighton Council has the lowest rates per capita yet the highest operating result in Tasmania.

“Council’s commitment to absorb the carbon tax impact and maintain its fair rating model will ensure that Brighton Council will continue to have the lowest rates in Tasmania.”

Cr Foster said each year Brighton Council faced threats designed to undermine its commitment to the fair rating model with the challenge this year coming in the form of amendments to the Local Government Act.

Council lobbied hard for the State Government to recognise Brighton’s method of flat rating for residential properties and extensive community consultation was undertaken resulting in the securing of legislative certainty for the Brighton system.”

Cr Foster said Council had also considered the implications for the Federal Government’s carbon tax and while it was difficult to identify the exact financial impact of this new impost on Council’s budget, it was generally accepted that it would increase Council expenditure by around 0.7 percent or $12 per property.

“Council debated the consequences of this increased cost but accepted that many businesses and ratepayers do not have the privilege of simply increasing revenue when the going gets tough so our commitment to CPI prevailed.

“Council will simply work harder, smarter and share resources with other councils to overcome the additional tax.”

Cr Foster said the community continued to expect and deserve a higher level of service such as better roads, parks, shared pathways and customer service. By not increasing rates higher than CPI, higher levels of community service could only be achieved through efficiency gains or external income.

“Our fair rating model has encouraged us to be more efficient to the point that Brighton Council now has the lowest staff ratio and the highest operating result in Tasmania.

“Brighton Council has also achieved considerable success and is recognised as an Australian leader in the area of external income generation, particularly through its highly successful information technology company Microwise Australia that provides software to councils and water authorities across Australia and internationally.”

Cr Foster said Council had also discussed the current strong push by some elements in the commercial sector for a greater Hobart ‘super council’ with the hope of lower rates.

“Brighton Council has studied the likely impact of amalgamation on the Brighton community and has received expert advice that rate equalisation as a result of amalgamation could increase Brighton’s rates by up to 40 percent.

Brighton Council is not against the principle of amalgamations but will only support it where it can be demonstrated that the Brighton Community is guaranteed to be “no worse off”. Clearly a 40 percent rate increase is in direct conflict with the Brighton fairer rating model, Cr Foster said.