Rate uniformity adopted
Residential and business properties from the former Urana council area will see an increase in their rates, while Corowa, Howlong and Mulwala will see minimal change in rates for residential and business properties. There is also a minor increase for all farmland properties.
After a period of public consultation across the local government area in May, councillors voted at yesterday’s July council meeting to progress under option B, which was the recommendation.
The motion was moved by Cr Fred Longmire and seconded by Cr Andrew Kennedy.
Ratepayers will see changes in their rates notices next financial year.
A common ad valorem rate and base structure of $348 will be implemented across all rating categories, which council says will “result in the in the least impact on the most ratepayers”.
According to council, this structure maintains a similar amount of rates from residential properties as currently collected.
Federation Council Mayor Patrick Bourke supported Option B citing it would see uniformity across the shire.
“At some stage in this merger we have to create an average across and bring the whole council together. I for one don’t want to differentiate between the north and the south. With the adoption of this rates harmonisation, we can drop the north and south and look at equality through the whole shire,” Cr Bourke said.
Cr Longmire said while the rural sector could be penalised, he agreed Option B was the fairest option.
“With the numbers that came in from the survey, the evidence supports what most of the logical thinking is,” he said.
“Forty-nine per cent of our rates is from the residential sector. Acres are important for production, but it is people that write the cheque out.
“We have to give the services out the best we can. It’s difficult for the people at Morundah and Boree Creek where they don’t have a heated indoor swimming pool in their back yard, but that is what it is.”
Rates harmonisation means the council will now have one general rating structure, instead of the two different structures across previously existing boundaries of the former Corowa and Urana Shires.
Under the NSW Government’s rate protection commitment, former councils’ rating structures were to stay in place for four rating years, from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2020.
The State Government’s imposed rates freeze on amalgamated councils ensured residents paid no more than they would have under their old council until 2021.
All merged councils were required to establish a new rating structure and transition to the new structure from
July 1, 2020. A further amendment has extended the requirement until the 1 July 2021.
The proposed 2021/22 Revenue Policy for Federation Council includes an 8 per cent increase in total general rate income (2 per cent in accordance with the NSW Government rate peg and 6 per cent after Council gained a Special Rate Variation in regard to the new Corowa Aquatic Centre).
An independent review panel was formed to consider various rates harmonisation models for council in early May, with a draft policy recently released for public exhibition.
Mayor Bourke said previous to the July meeting that it was important to note that the process of harmonising rates across Federation would not increase the total rate revenue collected by council.
“Rate harmonisation simply redistributes the current rate income across all ratepayers based on the unimproved land value of their property under one new system,” he said.
Federation Council’s effort to see uniformity in rates across the entire shire is a step closer after adopting a preferred structure for rates harmonisation between the former Corowa and Urana shires at its monthly meeting yesterday.