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A tool to judge proposed SRV’s impact

Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) has developed an online tool to help ratepayers estimate how much their rates will increase over the three years, 2018/19 to 2020/21, when compared to the ‘ordinary rate’ for different rating categories in the 2017/18 rate notices.

The council is considering applying to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to increase rates above the state government’s pegged limit, which is set on an annual basis.

The proposal is to increase rates by 8 per cent each year (inclusive of the rate-pegged limit) for three years from 2018-19, with the cumulative 25.97 per cent increase to be retained permanently in council’s rate base.

The council’s general manger Ashley Lindsay said in a media release that “the simple tool offered an effective way for people to work out what a proposed special rates variation (SRV) would mean on individual properties”.

“All people need is their property number and access to the internet,” he said.

“People can visit and, in a couple of clicks, work out how much the proposed rise would cost them.

“If people don’t have internet access, we have facilities available at all Clarence Valley libraries.

“We hope people take advantage of it.”

It’s important to note that the increases only apply in comparison to this year’s rate notices: for example, a Yamba property valued at $2m paid $11,316.80 in 2016/17; but this year paid only $7, 231, as a result of rationalising rates across the valley since amalgamation and the removal of the 6.5 per cent SRV levied for 2016/17 only – note, this is an extreme example of the process.

Also there are situations, such as business rates in Grafton and South Grafton, where the rates levelling process does not concur with the calculator’s annual 8 per cent increases – for example Business E rates will increase by an average of 8 per cent for the first two years and then by between 0.27 percent and 3.26 per cent in the final year depending on individual property valuations.

The calculator comes with several disclaimers, however: “…this estimator is provided for illustrative purposes and does not reflect actual charges or amounts due.

“It provides an estimate only and does not include rebates or other adjustments and is subject to change.

“This estimate cannot be substituted for actual Rates Notices or Certificates from the Council and Council cannot be held liable for an incorrect estimate.

“The information contained on this site is provided in good faith; however, Council makes no statements, representations or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of any information provided by this estimator.”

Also, while a five-question survey is contained within a mail-out to all Clarence Valley residents, people can complete the survey online.