News & Media Releases
Yarra Council response to rate cap announcement
23 December 2015
The State Government’s announcement yesterday of a 2.5% rate cap for all Victorian Councils will have a significant impact on Yarra Council.
Yarra Mayor Cr Roberto Colanzi said at this stage, the reality is that rate capping will mean less available funds to allocate to capital works, services and major projects,” Cr Colanzi said.
“Council rates deliver hundreds of vital local services – everything from roads, waste and recycling, streetscapes, footpaths, urban renewal and major infrastructure projects (such as the North Fitzroy Community Hub), to everyday community services for the aged, people with disabilities, families, young people, traders and more.”
According to the Municipal Association of Victoria, Council rates have risen at a lower rate each year than State taxes which have risen an average 5.59 per cent each year for the past decade and State property taxes which have increased an average 7.13 per cent a year.
“Yarra Council accepts that we need to use our limited resources carefully, efficiently and in the interests of all, but if we are now going to receive significantly less income, something will have to give,” Cr Colanzi said.
“We also need to ensure that Council isn’t called upon, and often at the last minute, to pick up the responsibilities and costs for State or Federal services because this will ultimately divert funding from core local government services and put pressure on Council budgets and our community.”
Cr Colanzi said input from the community about how Council should prioritise its available funds would be very important next year and in the years to come.
He said Council had already started the conversation about its 2016/17 budget with a two-phase community consultation process which began with phase one in November.
“We received 95 submissions, three times more than last year which reflects the community’s willingness to be part of the solution of managing with tighter budgets.
“Topics submitted included ideas for ‘user pays’ services, personal mobility transport solutions, new community infrastructure, and open spaces.”
Phase two community consultation will be undertaken in April when Council releases its draft 2016/17 Budget for community feedback prior to adopting the Budget in June.
Cr Colanzi said that rate capping had brought challenges and opportunities for Yarra Council.
“One challenge is to find smarter and more cost-efficient ways of continuing to provide services and infrastructure,” Mayor Colanzi said.
“One of the best opportunities has been through bringing our community along on the journey, and getting agreement that we are all in this together.
“We are sharing with the community the hard work of balancing their aspirations for new services and facilities with our ongoing need to strengthen essential services and maintain our existing, ageing assets.
“We will need to make tough choices and hard decisions, and the community will be part of that.”
Cr Colanzi added that Council calls on the State Government, and the Federal Government for that matter, to ensure it is equally efficient and does not continue to shift responsibilities across to the limited resources managed by local Councils to provide important, local services.
Council has until 31 March to apply to the Essential Services Commission for an exemption or a higher cap, but will be expected to demonstrate extensive community consultation.
Cr Colanzi said that Council had not yet decided whether to apply for an exemption or a higher cap.
“We are very fortunate in having an articulate and responsive community, and they’ve told us recently that they are happy with what we are doing so far.”
The Know Your Council State Government website data, made up of measures and a checklist of items which together build a picture of council performance, showed Yarra had performed very well on community satisfaction with council decisions and on community consultation and engagement.
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