Council seeks community views on harmonised rate structure

Published on 04 March 2020

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Following input and recommendations from a 17-person community reference panel, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is seeking general community feedback on a single rating structure for the local government area.

As part of the merger in 2016, the NSW Government announced that newly created councils would be unable to harmonise their rating structures until the 2020-21 financial year. Between 2016 and now, Queanbeyan-Palerang ratepayers have been paying rates under the structures adopted by the two former councils. New property valuations prepared by NSW Valuer General also come into effect from 1 July 2020.

“The rates harmonisation process was a challenge for Council, however with the assistance of the Community Reference Panel, I am confident that we have an equitable and fair rating structure for the community to consider,” Queanbeyan-Palerang Mayor, Cr Tim Overall said.

“By the nature of the harmonisation exercise, together with the impact of revised property valuations, there will be increases and decreases in general rates across our local government area, but we have tried to minimise the impact of this where possible. It’s important to understand that this process does not increase Council’s income from rates, it just redistributes that income across our rating categories.

“The two former councils had employed different rating structures with different goals and principles, but now we have one structure, focused on the same outcomes.”

The majority of Council’s 27,000 rateable properties will see minor changes to their rates due to the harmonisation process. Of those 27,000, around 14% will see an increase of more than 10%, with the majority of that 14% seeing an increase of less than $20 per quarter.

The rating structure on public exhibition was preferred by the Community Reference Panel and supported by Council as it follows a principle-based approach with:

  • Sub-categorisation for local communities with unique characteristics and different public infrastructure and Council services
  • The ad valorem amount is set to recover the nett cost of infrastructure
  • The base amount is set to recover the nett cost of services and operations
  • The rates yield by category and sub-category is consistent with the existing (current year) rates yield.

Alongside the rates harmonisation process, QPRC ratepayers will need to be mindful of the impact of fresh valuations from the NSW Valuer General and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s rate peg for 2020-21, both of which will impact individual rates.

All NSW properties in all council areas are revalued every three years, with this valuation determining a portion of the overall rates bill. Where properties values increase above the average, it’s likely that ratepayers will see an increase, however a decrease in property value is likely to lead to a decrease in rates. Council is unable to influence this process.

The rate peg applies to all NSW councils and for 2020-21 it has been set at 2.6%. This means that Council can increase its total general rates income by 2.6% and does not mean each individual property will see a 2.6% increase.

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