Valuations and Rates

In the next few weeks councils in Tasmania will be issuing rates notices for 2007-8. Some municipalities have been revalued and others have had an adjustment factor applied to their previous valuations. In the future, adjustment factors will be applied every two years irrespective of valuations. Whichever the case, property values have shown a significant increase and in the case of rural property that increase is dramatic. Currently most councils apply the same rate in the dollar of A.A.V (Assessed Annual Value) to all property whether residential, rural or commercial etc. The result is that the rural properties in particular pay a disproportionate amount compared to residential property. With the new valuations and automatic adjustment factors that gap will widen greatly unless the rating system is changed. It then follows that because rural properties will net a considerable increase in funds for councils residential rates may in fact decrease. When we consider the vast difference in services, amenities and conveniences available for urban dwellers compared to country people it is patently obvious that many would consider the current system to be unjust. Section 107 of the Local Government Act clearly sets out an alternative generally known as ‘different rating’ which states in part quote: ‘A council by absolute majority may declare that the general rate or a service rate varies within different parts of a municipal area according to any or all of the following factors.’ Some factors listed include use of land, locality and zoning. “Use” means and includes primary production, residential, commercial etc. The fact that this alternative is clearly enunciated in the Act means that this is available to adopt. With the current unprecedented increase in value of rural land, councils may decide that it is now time to change to a different system for rating. Another alternative available and also spelt out in Local Government Act is the oppurtuinty for ratews emissions. Section 129 (3) states “A council by absolute majority may grant a remission of any rates, penalty or interest paid or payable by a class of ratepayers”. This method would probably be less acceptable to the public. The issue is extremely important at this time and should be given serious and immediate attention by councils, interested groups and farmer’s organisations.

Don McShane,
Red Rock,
Avoca 7213