Rates 2018–2019 FAQs

Overview

Budget Brief brochure

What are differential rates?

Differential rates mean there is a different rate for different groups i.e. residential, commercial and industrial. The reason for them is so one group isn’t burdened by rate increases more significantly than others.

How are my rates calculated?

The rates paid on residential property are calculated based on the potential rental value of the premises and the operating requirements of Council. This is known as the gross rental value (GRV).

The rates you pay are a proportionate share of what is needed by Council to provide local services and facilities. That is, if your home has greater potential rental return than your neighbours, you will pay a higher share of the total rates budgeted by Council.

What can make my rates go up?

Your rates can increase if Council requires more funds to provide local services and or facilities. For example, if it builds new facilities, has to maintain them, adds services or implements new initiatives etc.

Rates can also increase if your property increases in potential rental value faster than others in your area. For example, if you make improvements to your home that increase its rental value then your share of rates will increase.

Council budgets and consequently funds required through rates are also affected by changes made by other sectors of government. For example, when the State Government increased its charges for power and water, or adds to the street lighting, that cost has to be met by councils.

How much will my rates go up this year?

Council has proposed to increase rates by 3%. The exact amount of your increase depends on the value of your property and will be known to you when you receive your rates notice.

This represents an average increase for residential properties of $61 per year or 1.17 per week, this financial year.

What factors have influenced Council’s decision to increase rates by 3%?

In addition to continuing to deliver all our current services, Council is preparing to implement new place planning initiatives and increase vegetation and tree planting programs. Both of these initiatives are in response to community input during the recent Evolve community engagement process.

Other factors that have contributed to the increase, which have been imposed on Council by the state government, include above Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases for street lighting (3.2%), electricity (5.5%) and water (6.0%) – an additional $65,000 to $80,000 above inflation – as well as new costs for mandatory auditing to be done through the State’s Office of the Auditor General (an additional $60,000 to $80,000 per annum).

Waste services will also likely increase due to an increase in the State Government’s waste levy, increased gate fees for landfill, and proposed increases in recycling processing fees in Western Australia (anticipated to be between $300,000 to $500,000 per annum).

Why are rates going up more than the rate of inflation?

Whilst the CPI is a good general economic indicator, it is not always an accurate reflection of the true costs incurred by Councils. As Council reviewed its Strategic Community Plan, the community provided a clear indication on the levels of service and outcomes they expect and we need to resource this.

It is also important to note, Council has worked to operate with the same level of staffing in recent years. This year increases in the cost of staffing are related to the established Enterprise Agreement and these have also been above inflation.

What do I get for my rates?

Council operates 29 service areas that cover services run from facilities such as the library and leisure centres, as well as community development programs such as events, public art programs and safety initiatives, operational services with capital works, maintenance and improvements for roads, footpaths, parks and waste collection, building and development compliance, strategic and place planning services, environmental health, animal control, local business support, and customer and administration services.

How do my rates compare to other local governments?

It is not reasonable to compare rates (and rate rises) with other councils as each council is unique in growth, services, and residential property versus commercial property ratios.

Last year the Town had the sixth lowest residential minimum rates (inclusive of waste charges) of Perth metropolitan local governments.

The Town also had the tenth lowest average residential rates (inclusive of waste charges) of Perth metropolitan local governments in 2017–2018.

Could Council have made no increase in rates and still provided services at the same level as last year?

It is unlikely. Council would need to reduce services, identify either additional revenue sources or significant efficiency gains of around $1.4 million (the equivalent of 3% of rate revenue).

If rates were not increased, what effect would this have?

Like all households and businesses, Council is subject to increasing cost pressures. Many of these costs are somewhat ‘fixed’, for example, wage increases, power, water, street lighting and certain statutory expenses.

If we did not increase rates, it is likely that capital works, road maintenance and community services would need to be reduced, delayed or removed. Additional programs, such as place planning, economic development and environmental programs including tree planting initiatives would not be implemented.

The Town is still working hard to create the right balance of efficiencies in a tough economic environment and still deliver an adequate service to the community.

How do the State and Federal Governments impact the Council budget?

Increased cost shifting and legislation from State Government mean increased administration costs for councils to facilitate the collection of fees for various services and rebates. When the State Government increases the cost of power, water and other utilities, these costs are passed on to you via rate increases.

All councils also rely on and compete for additional funds from the state and federal government through assistance grants and funding bid opportunities. Without these we would not be able to implement large scale infrastructure projects or subsidise health and safety initiatives such as installing CCTV cameras.

How reliant is Council on rate revenue?

Around 72% of Council’s budget is met through rate revenue.

What is the Emergency Services Levy?

The State Government requires councils to collect the Emergency Services Levy from ratepayers.

The funds raised go to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. The funds do not go to councils and the rate charged is not set by councils.

How is the GRV determined?

All GRVs within your local council are assessed at the same date of valuation. Rental evidence is collected at that date and used to determine the fair rental value for each property. The rental value for a house will be influenced by factors such as age, construction, size, car shelters, pools and location. By analysing property rents against their individual attributes and characteristics it is possible to assess a valuation for all properties, whether they are rented or not.

While land used for residential purposes is valued on its rental value, land used for other purposes having a relatively low rental value in comparison to its capital value may be valued on a percentage of its capital value as if it were vacant land.

What do I do if I think my GRV is too high?

You can object to the GRV subject to meeting the requirements outlined below.

  • Your written objection is sent within 60 days of the rates notice being issued.
  • You provide grounds and supporting reasons which might include:
    • rental evidence at or around the date of valuation which shows the GRV of your property to be too high
    • examples which show your GRV is significantly higher than similar properties within your local area.

Objecting to the GRV because you consider your rates notice or the increase in rates is too high are not valid reasons and the objection will not be accepted.

For information about your land valuation visit Landgate’s website or call (08) 9273 7373.

What if I own a vacant block of land?

The Town investigated the possibility of introducing a differential rate for vacant land in 2015. There was a discussion of increasing the rate for vacant land significantly to encourage development. It has been decided that this may be something that Council looks at introducing in the future after appropriate consultation with the community.

Do pensioners get a discount on rates?

Pensioners with a valid seniors or concession card have been entitled to rate reductions depending on their status on council rates, water charges and the Emergency Services Levy.

On 1 July 2016, the State Government capped the rebate to pensioners at 50% of their rates up to $750.

Do I have to pay my rates all at once?

We understand that sometimes people experience financial hardship which makes it difficult to meet all of their financial commitments when they are due.

Please contact the Town’s rates department to arrange a suitable payment arrangement to settle your rates by the end of the financial year.

Where can I see a copy of the Town’s budget?

Once adopted, a copy of the Town’s budget will be available on the Council documents section of this website or in person at the administration centre and library. The 2017/2018 budget is currently available on the website.

How can I get more information about the budget?

Call the Town on 9311 8111 to speak to someone about the budget.