A homeowner in Ballarat with an averagely priced property pays more than $200 more in rates and charges than the equivalent property owner in Geelong, analysis of the cities' budgets shows.
The Courier has calculated rates and charges for Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.
Our analysis shows that if you owned a house in Ballarat with an average value you would pay a total of $1,825 for your rates and charges, including fees for waste collection, recycling and green waste.
Bendigo comes to a total of $1766.38 for the same services. While the rates are higher in Bendigo for the average property than in Ballarat, the fees for waste management are substantially less.
The average in Geelong meanwhile significantly undercuts both cities with a total of $1617.75 - more than $200 less expensive than Ballarat even when including the city's municipal charge, which neither Ballarat or Bendigo have.
The average house prices used to calculate rates and charges use the following figures as average: $354,836.20 in Ballarat, $359,281.11 in Bendigo and $546,150.70 in Geelong.
The values are obtained by dividing the overall Capital Improved Value (CIV) of residential properties in the area by the total number of houses.
While Ballarat remains only slightly more expensive than Bendigo at the different house values, the discrepancy between those two cities and Geelong widens the higher the property value (see table below).
For example a $600,000 house in Geelong would have rates and charge of $1,734.36 compared to $2,786.60 and $2,728.89 in Ballarat and Bendigo respectively.
Rates notices in each area are calculated by multiplying the latest CIV - now decided annually by the Victorian Valuer-General - by a so-called "rate in dollar" set by each council.
The figures studied here do not include the state's fire services levy, which is collected by local councils at the same time as rates notices.
Geelong's rate in dollar is set at 0.00216185, Ballarat is 0.003922 while Bendigo's is marginally higher at 0.00399849.
The City of Ballarat's director of business services Glenn Kallio said there were difficulties comparing councils that had a municipal charge against councils that don't, adding that the charge "adversely affects low value properties."
He also said that using averages was a "simplistic view of a complicated system" and that the comparison "did not deliver an accurate picture."
The Courier has compiled a full table of rates across a wide range of property values below.
HOW RATES COMPARE BY PROPERTY VALUE
Rates increases are now capped by the Fair Go Rates system, which was introduced by the current state government back in the 2016/17 financial year.
This year, rates and charges were capped at an increase of 2.5 per cent. Any council wishing to increase their rates by more has to apply for special dispensation to the Essential Services Commission. None of the three councils featured here did so this financial year.
The 2.5 per cent rate cap does not mean that ratepayers will see a uniform increase in their charges. Those in suburbs that have seen sharp increases in property values - such as Redan, Mount Pleasant, Soldiers Hill, Wendouree, Golden Point and Ballarat East among others - will see much higher rises than those living in properties with flatter property values.
The City of Ballarat Council is due to raise a total of $122.8 million through rates and charges this financial year, according to the 2019/20 budget.
FULL BREAK DOWN OF CALCULATIONS
RATE IN DOLLAR: 0.003922
Average property value: $354,836.20 (total residential Capital Improved Value divided by number of residences)
Residential rate for average property value: $1,391.67
Waste, inc recycling and green bin: $433.40
Average total rates and charges bill: $1,825.07
RATE IN DOLLAR: 0.00399849
Average property value: $359,281.11 (total residential Capital Improved Value divided by number of residences)
Residential rate for average property value: 1,436.581907624909
Waste (including garbage, recycling and organics): $329.80
Average total rates and charges bill: $1766.38
RATE IN DOLLAR: 0.00216185
Average property value: $546,150.70 (total residential Capital Improved Value divided by number of residences).
Residential rate for average property value: $1,180.70
Municipal charge: $105.25.
Average total rates and charge: $1,617.95 (including municipal charge)
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