Don't like the way you pay rates? On Wednesday, you will have the chance to have your say in Ballarat.
At a meeting at Craig's Hotel, residents will be asked to respond to a series of questions about how the system is set.
It is likely to include discussion on whether all property owners should have to pay, if some ratepayers pay lower rates than others, and whether property values be used to calculate rates.
The panel consists of Dr Kathy Alexander, a businesswoman and former CEO of City of Melbourne, John Tanner, a retired regional business owner, and Dr Ron Ben-David, formerly the chair of the Essential Services Commission.
They will also hear submissions on the current system's clarity and transparency, and whether State government has enough say about how council rates are set.
HAVE YOUR SAY AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS STORY
It is part of the state-wide Local Government Rating System Review, looking into the way that councils gather rates, and how the process is overseen.
A discussion paper published as part of the review says that more than $5 billion will be raised by councils on three million Victorian properties this financial year.
In Ballarat, the expected income due from rates and charges this financial year is $122.8 million.
The City of Ballarat uses a system where the value of a property - as determined by the Valuer General at the beginning of each calendar year - is used to calculate the bill.
The total is determined by a so-called rate in the dollar, which varies according to whether the property is classified as residential, commercial, industrial or recreational.
Rate increases are capped each year at a level set by the Essential Services Commission. This year, rates and charges increases were 2.5 per cent. However, the rate-capping will not be considered as part of this review.
Earlier this year, The Courier analysed rates and charges for three of Victoria's main regional centres: the City of Ballarat, the City of Greater Bendigo and the City of Greater Geelong.
The average bill paid by a Ballarat resident was considerably higher than that paid by those living in Geelong, and slightly higher than Bendigo residents.
Some areas in the city that have been hit particularly hard by the rapid increase in property prices in some areas, including Redan, Soldiers Hill, Wendouree, Golden Point, Ballarat East and others.
Last year, The Courier also compared the way commercial rates may be affecting businesses and organisations in the city.
The meeting in Ballarat is one of the last in a series of public consultations. A report produced by the review of the rating system is due to be submitted to the local government minister by the end of March next year.
Residents can also make submissions to the independent panel put together to conduct the review online: see here for more information. https://engage.vic.gov.au/rating-review/rating-review-general-submissions
The feedback period will conclude at the end of this month.
The City of Ballarat was contacted and said it did not wish to make any comment ahead of the review.
- The event will start at 7pm at Craig's Hotel on Wednesday October 16. Registering is encouraged to get an idea of how many will be attending (firstname.lastname@example.org), but a spokesperson confirmed it would fine to simply show up.
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