Ballarat City Council will find out if it was successful in its request for an exemption from the state government’s controversial rate capping scheme in the next week.
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The City of Ballarat is one 10 councils to apply an exemption from the cap through the Essential Services Committee (ESC).
The council is looking for an increase rate of 3.7 per cent next financial year instead of 2.5 per cent.
The difference between full rate cap budget and the 1.2 per cent variation budget is just over $1 million.
Ballarat mayor Des Hudson said the timing of the ESC decision on the rate capping request meant the council was forced to draw up four alternative budgets.
He anticipated the council would know the outcome of its rate capping appeal by the end of this month or early June at the latest.
“We feel as though we have put forward the best case we could,” Cr Hudson said.
“We’ve presented at every opportunity various degrees of modelling to support our case and it’s now over to the state government to make those determinations for each individual council.”
The Courier understands all ten council who have made an appeal to be omitted from rate capping scheme will find out at the fate of requests at the same time.
But as the current financial year draws to a close, councils are now being forced to draw up budgets with no certainty.
Victorian Local Governance Association President, councillor Sebastian Klein, said rate capping would bite first on rural and regional councils and those in high growth areas.
“Those councils have chosen to apply for a variation in response to their community’s needs,” Cr Klein said.
“Things like sporting facilities, civic centres, childcare and libraries are all viewed by communities as critical investments.”
Cr Klein said it was widely accepted that many more councils would require a rate cap variation in coming years or run the risk of being unable to keep up with service demand and community infrastructure needs.
“This is just the beginning of what will be a long and painful road for local government and their communities,” he said. “It will have serious adverse impact on local communities.”
Victorian Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said the Fair Go Rates system will protect ratepayers from uncontrolled rate rises, which have on average risen 6 per cent every year for the past decade.
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