Rates report slammed

THE Brighton Council has slammed the Access Economics report into Tasmania’s local government rating system saying it fails to address rates volatility and could lead to significant rate increases.

The report was commissioned by the Local Government Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, to examine Tasmania’s valuation and local government rating system, and recommends a framework for the future.Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said from the report, Access Economics failed to adequately investigate or consider Brighton’s residential general flat rate system.

“Instead, the report recommends the State Government legislate to prevent Brighton, or any other council from implementing such a system. This would result in many Brighton ratepayers facing substantial rate increases and this is unacceptable,” Cr Foster said.

“Our flat rate system has enabled Brighton Council to keep rate increases at or below the rate of inflation and we have committed to maintain future rate increases at no greater than rises in CPI.

“We also take account of capacity to pay, providing a significant reduction for residences in Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove.

“However, we will not be able to keep this commitment if we are forced to implement a system recommended by Access Economics based on property or land values.”

Cr Foster said he found it incredible that Access Economics had undertaken case studies on four councils – Hobart Latrobe, Kingborough and Northern Midlands – but had ignored Brighton, one of the councils employing a different rating system.

“Our system is fair and meets all the key principles identified by Access Economics – efficiency, simplicity, equity, sustainability and competitiveness – yet it has been ignored, or at best, not understood.

“In Brighton’s view, the report’s recommendations will lead to greater rate volatility and rate rises for Tasmanian ratepayers. They will seriously disadvantage many Brighton ratepayers.

“The State Government should reject the recommendation relating to flat rates and look closely at the ratepayer and community benefits of the Brighton system. It should ensure that our council and others have the flexibility to employ a rating process that best meets the needs of their ratepayers and municipality,” Cr Foster said.