May 6, 2014

Labor Announces Fair Go For Regional Ratepayers

Victorian Labor will force local councils across Victoria to cap rates at Consumer Price Index (CPI) and justify any further increases said Geoff Howard MP, State Member for Ballarat East.

If Cities and Shires want to raise their rates above CPI then they must appeal to the independent Essential Services Commission (ESC) and justify any rate increases.

The ESC will determine whether rate increases are fair, and will take into account:

•          Any extraordinary circumstances (e.g. natural disasters, new functions)

•          Other sources of income available to the Shire and their overall financial position

•          The continued maintenance of essential Council services

If the ESC believes the rate rise is unreasonable, they will recommend to the Minister for Local Government that the increase be blocked.

At the moment the ESC makes sure that Victorians pay a fair price for gas, water and electricity. It is the sensible authority to determine council rates. 

“Under Labor, Cities and Shires will be forced to limit rate rises and detail where every dollar will be spent, because ratepayers deserve a fair go.

“It’s time to do something about the council rates, the wasteful spending and the lack of transparency.”

“Labor’s plan means somebody will be looking after the interest of ratepayers.”

“Labor’s plan is fair for local government in our region – it sends a message that we expect councils to keep its rates in line with CPI and lets the independent Commission decide above that.”

“The cost of living is increasing and Tony Abbott and Denis Napthine increasing taxes and charges on families across the region.”

“With Labor’s plan, homeowners and businesses in regional Victoria can have confidence that they aren’t footing the bill for wasteful or unnecessary council spending.”

Key Facts

•          Labor will amend the Local Government Act to require that draft budgets are submitted to the ESC before they are adopted.

•          These additional powers will ensure that councils are properly managing their budgetary responsibilities, and not hitting ratepayers with unsubstantiated or excessive
rate increases.