Bayside Council is one of several New South Wales amalgamated Councils working with the Office of Local Government to encourage the Minister for Local Government to introduce draft legislation to Parliament for the gradual (multi-year) implementation of rates harmonisation.
The Office of Local Government met with Bayside Council and several other councils across NSW about the possibility of the State Government making changes to the current legislation. These changes are required to provide greater flexibility for amalgamated councils in how they create a single, fair and equitable rating system across the newly amalgamated councils.
This type of change, if legislated, would allow Bayside Council to determine the fairest way to implement a new rating structure having regard to current financial pressures being experienced by all ratepayers.
Whilst Bayside Council is currently consulting with the community on what the rating structure would look like based on the current legislation, the Council was very clear in deciding that if current legislation changed in the future, it will consider other alternative ways of gradually implementing a new rate structure over a number of years.
“The State Government must give amalgamated councils the flexibility to transition to a new rating system over time in a way that shows the care and compassion this Council has for all its ratepayers,” Council’s spokesperson said
“In 2016 the State Government imposed a four-year rate freeze on all amalgamated councils with Legislation requiring rates structures to be harmonised by July 2021.
Rates paid by Bayside Council ratepayers are currently calculated using the formulas devised by the former Rockdale and Botany Councils.
Bayside Council is required to develop and introduce a single “fair and equitable” system by 1 July 2021 as the current legislation makes no provision for a deferred or staged implementation.
The process of harmonising rates across Bayside does not increase the total rates revenue collected by Council.
Rates harmonisation simply redistributes how the rates are currently paid so they are paid equally across all ratepayers based on the unimproved land value of their property. For example, when harmonised, a $750,000 property regardless of what former council it is located in, will pay the same amount of rates.
This is currently not the case. The average residential rate for Rockdale is $1,164, compared to Botany’s average of $709.
The current minimum rates are $768 for Rockdale and $553 for Botany.
In the coming weeks more information about the process and what it means will be made available and Council will engage extensively with ratepayers and the community to ensure they are fully informed.
Council will also write to all ratepayers about the changes, and all the information, as well as a rates calculator, will be available on Council’s website.
Importantly the calculator allows a property owner to see what a one year increase looks like compared to spreading the increase across a number of years, should the legislation be changed to accommodate a multi-year transition.