Hawkesbury Council approves rates changes likely to see most residents pay less rates

Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said she was happy changes to the ratings structure for the 2017-18 financial year went through. Picture: Geoff Jones
Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said she was happy changes to the ratings structure for the 2017-18 financial year went through. Picture: Geoff Jones

HAWKESBURY Council has adopted a ratings change, which will see rates reduced for many residents, while businesses and residents on rural land are likely to see an increase.

At the June 13 Council meeting, Council adopted a number of budget measures, which will allow the Council to operate over the next financial year, including changes to the way rates are calculated.

The measures were adopted 8-4, with Mary Lyons-Buckett, Barry Calvert, Paul Rasmussen, John Ross, Peter Reynolds, Danielle Wheeler, Amanda Kotlash and Emma-Jane Garrow voting in favour, while the four Liberals voted against.

The Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said this was a much fairer and equitable ratings system, when compared with the controversial changes to the system, which Council made in 2013.

“People's changes in rates will vary, and are dependent on a number of factors such as the recently released Valuer General's land valuations - an increase in land value may equate to a rate increase,” she said.

“However, due to the restructure, even with an increase, some landowners in some areas will have a decrease (these are the people who has a significant increase in 2013) and other people may have an increase.”

Liberal councillor Sarah Richards said her party was unhappy with the ratings changes.

“It is not fair or equitable, we think it should be more fairly distributed,” she said.

“We didn't agree with the base rate of all categories to be at 30 per cent, we wanted it to be at 50 per cent of the residential category.

“At the end of the day, residents look at the bottom line of their rates.”

Independent councillor Peter Reynolds said he was in favour of the changes.

“What we have done is give the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people,” he said.

“And those whose rates will rise will not have them increase inversely proportional to the 2013 changes. By comparison It is much fairer across the board.”

In January, a Council report into the proposed ratings changes estimated 78 per cent of properties would receive a decrease in their rates.

It also noted that a ‘premium’ was being placed on business rates.

The numbers

Council’s coffers will not swell any further than rate pegging will allow, but what has changed is how the rates are calculated, with much more emphasis being placed on land value.

Council has simplified the ratings system, eliminating the rural-residential category, and now has residential, farmland and business categories.

The base rate amount for all three categories is now $340. In the 2016-17 financial year, residential base amount was $520, farmland was $533 and business was 970.

With the base rate being reduced, a greater proportion of rates will be collected based upon land value.

Council does not set land value – that is done by the valuer general.

However, the rate at which land has changed too. Residential rates have decreased from 0.198184 cents per valuation dollar in the 2016-17 FY to 0.172337 for the 2017-18 FY.

For farmland, it has decreased from 0.294750 to 0.155103, while for business, it has increased from 0.231359 to 0.344674.