Cap to cut rates: ‘will have to be trade-offs’

Council CEO says community will need to discuss its priorities when rate increases capped to Melbourne CPI

Mansfield Shire rate increases are below the average increase of Victorian shires.

VICTORIANS have faced average council rate increases of almost 5.99 per cent every year for the past decade, according to new data.

But in Mansfield, following strong representation from the Victorian Farmers Federation and other groups, rate increases have been held much lower than the six per cent foreshadowed for future years in Mansfield Shire Council’s 2012/13 budget.

The State Government is now tabling legislation for its Fair Go Rates system, with proposed amendments to the Local Government Act 1989 enabling the Minister for Local Government to cap rates based on the Melbourne Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast.

It also provides for the Essential Services Commission to assess applications from councils to exceed the cap, for which they will need to demonstrate an increase is warranted and that they have their community’s support.

Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins said the Fair Go Rates system, to be delivered in time for the 2016-17 financial year, would give ratepayers greater value for money while ensuring councils remained financially sustainable and continued to provide essential services and facilities to their communities.

Mansfield Shire Council chief executive officer Alex Green said his general view of the rate cap is that the State Government was quite clear there will be one and Mansfield will have to work with this.

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