It has been just short of a week since the State Government 2016-17 budget was handed down. This was amid wide acclaim for bringing in a surplus that has previously escaped them. Thanks that is to councils and rate payers.
While the Treasurer trumps his State Government 2016-17 budget surplus of some $ 250 million many in the community are bemoaning council rate increases.
The facts are the State is doing well but mainly on the back of imposts and charges being collected via property taxes. Much of this is collected by Council.
Yes! As the Opposition promote rate capping because Councils can’t be trusted the state government, although ruling out a land tax, are using council rates as a stealth alternative.
Unprecedented increases in the Solid Waste Levy will see around $35 million per annum paid by councils by 2019/2020. This is despite the state government refusing to release $90 million of previously collected Waste Levy funding. More than a third of this was contributed by councils and rate payers. Councils have contributed $110 million to the Waste Levy over the past ten years and will contribute another $122 million to state government coffers over the next 4 years.
The state government is taking more and more property taxation – local government’s traditional and only tax base. The attached graph illustrates that the State is now raising 56% of property taxes to local government’s 44%. As I have noted in recent blog posts on rate capping less than 4% of tax nationally is collected by Councils. Adding to this state and federal budget decisions are squeezing council budgets from every direction and forcing ratepayers to pay more in rates.
Curiously the rebate offered by the Government last year in lieu of the rebate deducted from council rates previously, is offered to help you (if you qualify) with a subsidy to help pay such things as your water and other utility rates, but NOT council.