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Rate Capping and SACAT Fees for Valuations

John Darley, Advance SA MLC (5AA 11.33-11.40) Rate capping / SACAT fees for valuations

(Byner: The State Government’s proposed council rate capping legislation is apparently going to have an immediate effect on Lower Eyre Peninsula council ratepayers this year. The council says it wants a rate increase of 6.5% so it can future-proof itself from the rate capping the State Government imposes. Now you see the great problem with this is some of the stuff that’s come out from both Wayne Lines, the Ombudsman, and indeed the Auditor-General about some councils ... their largesse in spending on stuff that really has got nothing to do with you, except you’re paying ... this is on the top of a campaign of a lot of money, couple of hundred thousand dollars at least, where councils campaigned during the election to try and stop rate capping. Let’s talk to Advance SA’s John Darley ... what do you think of this ...?) ... look I think this is the most ludicrous approach that I’ve ever heard ... doesn’t this council understand that councils like families have to live within their means ... for this council to say ‘right we’re going to increase our rate to guard against any ... rate capping by government’ ... it’s madness ... we know that the Australia economy is tipped to increase at about 3% this year; we know that we’re experiencing an all-time low in wage increases across the country and yet this council seems to think that they can increase their rates to protect themselves ... councils get their income from ratepayers, if ratepayers are not getting an increase in their wages, and that’s fairly evident at the moment, how the hell can a council increase their rate at 6.5%? That’s madness. (Byner: What do you think Stephan Knoll should do?) Well I think what’s going to happen there’ll be an uprising in the public to start with. People will not wear this sort of carry on, particularly in the light of what happened at Onkaparinga ... we’ve had Freedom of Information information come from a number of councils and the largesse experienced by councils is completely out of control. I think Stephan Knoll as Minister of Local Government should step in and say ‘look let’s get a bit of common sense back into this situation’. (Byner: Well just saying that won’t be enough; he’ll have to change the Local Government Act.) ... well the Government is on record they’re going to ... change the Local Government Act to bring about rate capping ... (Byner: Well yes ... but... you’ve got other councils wanting to do the same thing, future-proof themselves in case there is rate capping and charge more.) Well it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the Government introduces their rate capping bill. Now at the present time I understand that the bill won’t get up but we haven’t seen the bill yet and we haven’t seen the amendments. (Byner: ... will you vote in favour of the rate capping?) Definitely ... absolutely I’m 100% behind rate capping. (Byner: ... well what we’re not sure about is Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo – they may not. Is that still your mail?) That’s still my mail but I think there might be a change, bearing in mind that Nick Xenophon and I agreed in 2014 that we would introduce a bill for rate capping of councils. Steven Marshall pinched that idea and we were quite happy with that thought because at least we knew we had the then Opposition on side ... then Nick Xenophon changed his mind after he went to a Local Government Association meeting ... he could see that amongst the councils it wasn’t a popular move so he changed his policy, but I think that Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo when they sit down and think about this and think about all the surrounding issues and the economy they’ll probably come around. (Byner: All right, John Darley thank you. Now my question to you [listeners] is this: What do you think of councils who actually say ‘we’re going to future-proof ourselves, so we’re going to put up the rates’ ... what do you think, has that happened to you? And remember this, and I talk about this a lot and that is that Local Government have the luxury of deciding what they want to spend and then using the powers of regulation go out and get it and this business that our budgets are open to public scrutiny, very few people turn up to them ... not because they’re not interested but because they know they know they’re wasting their time. We’ve had calls on this for years ... ‘I’ve put up this and this and this; I was totally ignored’ or ‘they pretended to listen to me but it made no difference’. So why would you bother ... remember rate capping does not stop councils putting up their rates it just says that beyond a certain point if you can justify it you’ll get it. So it appears that the councils do not trust their ability to justify, so they’re getting in early so they don’t have to do that. Not a very good attitude, is it ... do remember that if you get a valuation that you don’t agree with you have every right to object. Now this business about SACAT charging from $71 to nearly $600 for an application I don’t think that’s going to make it. I know there’s been some discussions recently on this and we’ve spoken to Vickie Chapman about it ... we understand that there might be substantial change in this, but it’s a little bit cynical isn’t it where you say ‘yes you have the right to object but we’ll just put in a cost that makes you not want to do it’ and then everything’s all tickety-boo right?)