Rates-setting season

The Property Council of Australia today again raised concerns regarding a lack of transparency and fairness in local council rates settings across the state.

In recognising Clarence City Council and Brighton Council for keeping their rates increase at the CPI level of 2.3 per cent, Tasmanian Executive Director Brian Wightman called upon other councils to become more accountable. 

“Tasmanian rate-payers deserve better, as the cost and scope of service delivery shouldn’t vary in a manner which creates unfairness and inequity across council boundaries.

“Yet again, we have clear examples of some councils maintaining CPI increases, while Kingborough Council officers tried 8.8 per cent but after being howled down opted for 4 per cent.

“The State Government needs to show leadership and tackle the quality, quantity and cost of services across municipal boundaries.

“It is obviously a time for more accountability which the State Government can mandate.

“An effective option would be to establish a body like the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in NSW, or Council Performance Reporting by Local Government in Victoria. 

“Members of the Property Council of Australia want efficiency and accountability from their representatives at a local government level.  As a very basic requirement, councils that choose to increase rates beyond CPI should be obliged to deliver a statement of reasons to rate payers, otherwise rates should be capped or pegged at no more than CPI.

“If Tasmania is serious about kick-starting the economy, reducing the cost of living, and improving conditions for business, it must act urgently to reform the local government sector,” he said.

Mr Wightman said that the Property Council of Australia had consistently raised the issue of unfairness and inequity with the State Government, and provided solutions.

“Tasmania’s residents need to know that council rates and levies as well as water, waste, and electricity charges are being determined according to realistic needs and within acceptable bounds,” he said. 

The State Government should resource the Department of Premier of Cabinet to:

  1. ensure that rate-payers are provided with clarity and transparency about the methodology for setting rates and can challenge decisions; and
  2. require any rate increases to be linked directly to improvements in service delivery or the provision of infrastructure, and to be capped to CPI or less.