Seven Victorian councils are considering applying for a rate increase above the 2.0 per cent rate cap set by Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins for the 2017-18 financial year.
The seven councils include Casey, Horsham, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Queenscliffe, Towong and West Wimmera.
Several of the councils have told the Essential Services Commission that while they were ‘keeping their options open’, the elected councils will still need to formally decide whether to make an application.
Commission chair Dr Ron Ben-David says the councils have until May 31 to submit their applications and noted other councils can still apply.
“We will now offer these councils advice and support so they fully understand the process including the requirement to engage with their local communities,” he said.
Dr Ben-David says the Commission has worked with the sector so it is better prepared in year two of the government’s Fair Go rates system.
“We’ve held two rounds of workshops across the state to review and refine our guidance material and have also implemented findings from an independent review conducted after year one to improve the process,” he said.
In applying for increases above the cap, councils need to demonstrate the reasons why they are seeking a higher cap as well as how it represents an efficient use of council resources and value for money.
Dr Ben-David says councils also need to show whether consideration has been given to reprioritising expenditure and alternative funding options.
“The applications need to be consistent with the council’s long term financial and planning strategies and demonstrate how they have taken into account the views of ratepayers and communities,” he said.
Councils considering applying for a variation in 2017-18: