Councils are expected to deliver many services and to provide an acceptable level of public amenity for the benefit of all residents. Their main source of revenue is a property tax, commonly known as 'rates'. This tax is based on the assessed value of each property on a fixed date for all rateable properties across the municipal area. The following information will help you to understand your responsibilities as a ratepayer. It also outlines allocations of rates and charges, penalties, and concessions that may affect you.
Rates are a tax levied by council. Their purpose is to support the council in providing services for the benefit of all residents. Rates help pay for:
Rates are normally made up of a general rate and a service rate and/or charge. Under certain circumstances, a council may levy a construction rate or charge, or a separate rate.
A general rate is a 'progressive' tax, reflecting the land, capital or Assessed Annual Value (AAV) of property. It may involve an additional fixed charge which applies equally to every property.
A council may make a general rate whether or not it provides any services to the land upon which the rating is made.
A council may make a service rate for any, all, or a combination of the following services:
The service rate is also 'progressive', being determined by the same property value as the general rate. Councils may set a minimum amount payable for fixed rate if it does not include a fixed charge.
Councils may levy a service charge in addition to, or instead of, making a service charge.
A service charge is a fixed charge payable on each property. The charge may differ in various parts of the municipal area depending on the type of service being provided and the circumstances in a particular area.
If a service is not provided or is unavailable, the prescribed rate or charge for that service may not apply.
A construction rate or charge may be set by councils in order to provide the infrastructure currently lacking for stormwater services to land that is within an established drainage district.
A council may make a separate rate in respect of any land or class of land within its municipal area. This may occur where, in Council's opinion, there is a need to plan, carry out, make available, maintain or improve anything on behalf of the affected land, or owners or occupiers of that land.
If a council decides to make a separate rate it must undertake a consultation process with the ratepayers of the affected land.
A separate rate may only be made for a 5 year period before it is subject to a review process and further consultation with affected ratepayers. Back to FAQ List
Generally, owners of land have to pay rates. Occupiers of land may pay the rates in exceptional circumstances. They may do so with the written consent of the owners. If someone other than the owner is paying the rates then the council has to be notified accordingly. Back to FAQ List
Rates are paid periodically by a due date or dates set by each council. A rates notice is posted to ratepayers, allowing approximately 60 days before payment of the entire amount is due, or, if payment is by instalments, at least 30 days before the first payment is due. Back to FAQ List
A council may allow rates to be paid by instalments instead of in one payment. You should check with council what arrangements are possible and the dates by which instalments are to be paid. These will be notified in a rates notice issued to each ratepayer.
If a ratepayer fails to pay any instalment within 21 days of the date on which the rates are due, the council may require the ratepayer to pay the full amount owing.
Methods of payment are usually outlined on the back of your rates notice and include payment:
An assessed annual valuation is an assessment of the market value of a property, at a specific date and in accordance with legislation. The Valuer-General determines the AAV under the Valuation of Land Act 2001 .
It is the gross annual income that, at the time of valuation, the owner of the property might reasonably expect to obtain from letting it to a tenant. The assessed annual value of the land cannot be less than 4 per cent of the capital value of the land. Back to FAQ List
It is the expected sum of money that might be realised if the land and any existing dwelling or improvements were offered for sale at a particular time. For instance, on a rates notice, it may show land value as $40,000 and capital value as $125,000. The capital value includes the land value plus the value of any buildings on the site. Back to FAQ List
If you wish to check your rates balance, please contact Council on (03) 6443 8333. Back to FAQ List
A Council may offer a ratepayer discount of up to 8% if rates are paid in full (not in instalments) before a date specified in the rates notice.
Discount will be allowed on all current rates (if no arrears) except fire levy paid in full by 31 August 2012. Back to FAQ List
Under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1993, a ratepayer may apply to a council for remission of all or part of the rates paid or payable.
To be entitled to apply, the Local Government (Rates and Charges Remissions) Act 1991 requires that a ratepayer must be an eligible pensioner and must occupy the property as his or her principle dwelling on or prior to 1 July of the rating year.
To be an eligible pensioner you must have:
Applications for rates remissions must be received by the council by 31 March of any year in which the rates are calculated. This means that if you meet the eligibility requirements after 31 March, you will not receive the remission until the following year.
From 1 July 2010 the maximum pensioner rate remission will vary depending upon whether or not an eligible pensioner is also a customer of a regional water and sewerage corporation.
The Department of Treasury and Finance has informed Council that, for the 2012/2013 financial year, in cases where an eligible pensioner is able to receive both a rate remission and a concession for a water and/or sewerage service, the maximum rate remission to apply is $275. In those cases where an eligible pensioner is not a customer of a regional corporation the maximum rate remission is $406.
If you have a specific query in relation to your rate notice or want to know about pensioner remission eligibility please contact our Rates Department on telephone 6443 8323. Back to FAQ List
A ratepayer who is having difficulty in paying rates should contact the council at the earliest opportunity to arrange a payment schedule that is agreeable both to the Council and the ratepayer. This is essential to avoid council taking legal action to recover the outstanding rates.
A ratepayer may also apply to council to defer the payment of rates on the grounds of hardship. An application has to be in writing and must be lodged with the council's General Manager.
A council may grant or refuse a deferral application. Any granted deferral may be subject to a condition that the ratepayer pay interest on the amount due. Back to FAQ List
If a ratepayer does not pay the rates on his or her property a council may commence legal action against the ratepayer to recover the outstanding amount. If council takes such legal action the ratepayer may also be liable for the council's legal costs associated with the action.
If rates, or any one rates instalment, are not paid on or before they fall due, the council may impose a penalty not exceeding 10% of the amount owing, and/or charge a daily interest rate determined by the council. Back to FAQ List
If rates are not paid for a period exceeding three years, the council may sell a property or part of a property to recover the unpaid rates. The council can sell it by public auction or by direct sale.
If the owner of a property cannot be found, the council may apply to have that property transferred to the council. Back to FAQ List