Rates and Charges Policy
1. POLICY STATEMENT
Clarence City Council is committed to levying property rates and charges in an equitable manner, taking into account the varying nature of property characteristics, relative capacity to pay within the community, and Council’s obligations under the law.
2.1. To provide a clear rationale to guide Council’s decision making process.
2.2. To inform the community.
2.3. To meet Council’s obligations under S86B of the Local Government Act 1993.
This policy provides a high level framework within which Council will set rates and charges to be levied on properties within its municipal area. It is intended to inform the decision making process, however does not represent the making of specific decisions with respect to property rating. Such decisions will be made annually, or as required, in accordance with relevant legislative requirements.
4. SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE REQUIREMENTS
The Local Government Act 1993 requires Council’s policy to take account of the following matters:
4.1. That rates constitute taxation for the purposes of local government, rather than a fee for a service;
4.2. The value of rateable land is an indicator of the capacity of the ratepayer in respect of that land to pay rates.
5. POLICY DETAILS
In response to its own Policy Statement as above and legislative requirements under which it is bound, Council determines the following policy detail:
5.1. General rates will be levied on all rateable properties, regardless of the extent to which Council services are used by the owners or residents of those properties. This is consistent with the principle of rates being a form of taxation (as determined by S86A(1) of the Local Government Act 1993).
5.2. The primary basis for determining the level of general rates (and, where determined appropriate, other rates) levied on individual properties will be the assessed annual value (AAV) of each property. This is consistent with the value of land being an indicator of capacity to pay (as determined by S86A(1) of the Local Government Act 1993).
5.3. Council will levy a general rate on all rateable property. This rate will recover the cost of services for which specific users cannot readily be identified, or for which a regime of full cost recovery through user charges has not been established by Council.
5.4. A minimum amount will be levied in respect of the general rate in recognition that each rateable property should bear a reasonable portion of the total rate burden.
5.5. Council will levy one or more service rates for fire protection, with associated minimums. These will be levied in accordance with notifications provided by the State Fire Commission under relevant legislation.
5.6. Council will levy a service charge in respect of waste management. This will be based on a fixed sum per property where the service is available.
5.7. Council will levy a service charge in respect of night soil removal. This will be based on a fixed sum per property where the service is provided.
5.8. Council will levy a stormwater removal rate on properties with substantial access to a stormwater removal service.
5.9. A minimum amount will be levied in respect of the stormwater removal rate in recognition that each rateable property should bear a reasonable portion of the total rate burden.
5.10. Variations to rates will be applied, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993, in circumstances where Council determines there is a reasonable basis for charging differentiation to occur. In particular, variations to rates will be applied:
- To properties other than commercial, industrial, or public purpose in respect of the general rate and stormwater rate. This is in recognition that the market value of the property class so identified broadly moves in a different market cycle to that of commercial, industrial, and public purpose properties.
- In respect of the waste management charge in recognition of variations in the level of service provided including bin size and/or frequency of service.
- In respect of fire protection in accordance with statutory notice provided to Council by the State Fire Commission.
5.11. Rebates will be applied to general rates otherwise payable in respect to specific properties and/or classes of ratepayers where Council determines there is social, economic, or equity benefit to the community in providing such rebates. Specific rebates will be applied:
- In respect of pensioners eligible for a rate remission under the Local Government (Rates and Charges Remissions) Act 1991 in recognition that this group represents a significant section of the community which, as a whole, has a limited capacity to pay a taxation burden.
- In respect of owners of large rural properties in recognition of the unique characteristics of those properties, the limited services provided by Council, and the role the rural sector plays in the community.
- In respect of new commercial development, as a temporary measure only, to assist in stimulating the ongoing economic development of the City.
- In respect of properties which would otherwise experience unreasonable rate increases resulting from rapid shifts in statutory valuations relative to the average of other properties in the City.
5.12. Rebates will be applied to waste management charges otherwise payable in respect to specific properties and/or classes of ratepayers where Council determines there is social, economic, or equity benefit to the community in providing such rebates. Specific rebates will be applied:
- In respect of commercial properties where alternative arrangements are made for a waste management service. This is in recognition that Council’s waste management service may not meet the specific needs of all commercial operations.
- In respect of properties in certain coastal communities, demonstrably used as holiday residences. This is in recognition that the service is unlikely to be utilised by such property owners.
5.13. While Council will provide rate rebates through this policy to various classes of ratepayers from time to time, it is committed to the principle that social welfare responsibilities lie with State and Federal Governments and the mechanisms established by those levels of government to administer social welfare.