Fair rate system backed – research sends clear message to government

AN overwhelming number of Brighton residents support the Council’s Fair Rating System with satisfaction levels more than double those of ratepayers in the greater Hobart region.

That is a key finding of an independent survey conducted by Myriad Research on behalf of the Brighton Council.The telephone survey of ratepayers in Brighton, Hobart, Glenorchy, Clarence and Kingborough was conducted at the end of last year, and designed to reflect ratepayer distribution, gender and age group.

It followed the release of the Access Economics review on valuation and local government rating commissioned by the State Government. The review recommends an end to Brighton’s Fair Rating System by restricting flat rates.

The research survey shows that 80 percent of Brighton residents are satisfied with their current rating system compared with 30 percent satisfaction for other greater Hobart ratepayers. Three out of every four Brighton ratepayers said they wanted to remain with Brighton’s Fair Rating system, based on a flat general rate, while half the ratepayers in the other regions favoured a flat rate, although they had no experience of the system.

As well, 50 percent of respondents were positive about Brighton Council’s performance over the past 12 months compared to 39 percent for other councils.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the research findings should send a clear message to the State Government that Brighton ratepayers were satisfied with the Council’s Fair Rating System and they wanted it to remain.

Cr Foster said it was incomprehensible that a rating system that was fair, equitable, took account of capacity to pay, was competitive and sustainable in that it was able to fund council services, should be abandoned based on a flawed recommendation by Access Economics.

“Under our Fair Rating system, Brighton charges a flat general rate, discounted for areas of reduced socio-economic status.

“Through this system, we have been able to keep rate rises at or below the rate of inflation, avoiding rate price shocks, and have guaranteed to keep increases at or below CPI increases in the future.

“We will be unable to do this if we cannot employ a flat rate.

“Disappointingly, Access Economics did not even model our Fair Rating System and appeared to have only reviewed the AAV system employed by most other Tasmanian councils. For this reason alone, the Access Economics findings are deficient.”

Cr Foster said Brighton ratepayers had spoken through the survey and other representations following the release of the Access Economics report and the State Government must heed the voice of the people.

“It should also understand that ratepayers in other areas also support flat rating, although they have no experience of the system.

“The Government must reject the recommendation to prevent flat rates and instead legislate to provide unrestricted flat rating and enable Brighton’s strongly supported Fair Rating System to endure,” Cr Foster said.