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Rates hypocrisy: MAV

The State Government plans to cap council rates at CPI from 2016/17.The State Government’s plan to cap council rates at CPI from 2016/17 has come under fire from the Municipal Association of Victoria which has accused the government of hypocrisy.
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Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas said new data analysed by the State Government showed that Macedon Ranges Shire Council had increased rates at an average of 5.74 per cent over the past decade. She urged council to rein in rates ahead of the Fair Go Rates cap being introduced next year.

Under the government’s plan, councils wanting to exceed the cap will be required to justify their spending.

“The Andrews Labor Government wants councils to be more accountable and transparent in their spending, and for communities to have a greater say. I’m sure that’s something local residents want to see too,” Ms Thomas said.

However the president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, Cr Bill McArthur, pointed out that Victorians faced an average state tax increase of almost six per cent every year for the last decade and even more in property taxes.

“State property taxes (land tax and stamp duty) rose $2.7 billion over the last decade to $5.9 billion. Total state taxes increased an average 5.59 per cent a year, but state property taxes grew by an average 7.13 per cent for each of the last 10 years,” Cr McArthur said.

“Taking funding away from councils while constantly criticising them is unconstructive, particularly when the state continues to reap a massive windfall each year from its own property taxes.”

Macedon Ranges Council challenged the State Government figures, stating that based on the rates and charges for the median valued property in the Macedon Ranges, rates had increased an average of 5.3 per cent over the past 10 years.

The mayor, Cr Jennifer Anderson, said council was mindful of finding the right balance between planning for the long-term wellbeing of residents and keeping rates affordable as part of every annual budget process.

“Our most recent budget is the eighth consecutive rate rise that has remained below five per cent for the median valued property,” Cr Anderson said.

Cr Anderson said that in the past year, the Victorian Government had discontinued the $1 million per year for local roads and bridges funding and $625,000 a year for infrastructure to the Macedon Ranges community.

“We are concerned that while we are yet to determine what areas will be impacted when rate capping is introduced, it may result in a reduction in works and/or services to our community,” she added.

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