Council embarks on rates harmonisation

Public comment is being sought as the Snowy Valleys Council [SVC] starts an 18-month long process to to ensure former Tumut and Tumbarumba Shire residents are paying the same rates across the Local Government Area.

The process has been dubbed ‘rate harmonisation’ and must be completed by June of 2021.

A new council will be elected in September this year. Snowy Valleys Chief Executive Officer Matthew Hyde said the upcoming election makes it important to start the process now, even though the community is still recovering from recent bushfires.

 “We acknowledge that the timing is not ideal as people are grappling with bushfire recovery concerns,” said Mr Hyde, “However amalgamated councils only have until June 2021 to complete their rates harmonisation process and the groundwork needs to be started now in planning for a decision by the new council elected in September.”

The SVC’s plan for rates harmonisation works alongside the council’s  ‘Road to Sustainability’ endeavour, which  was endorsed by Council during last week’s February Council Meeting.

“I’m glad to see this has been brought up again,” said Councillor Julia Hamm during the meeting, “It needs to be brought up regularly.

“I’m pleased there are going to be community consultations so that people can actually talk through the different scenarios.

“It is a really complex thing to do and to do fairly and I think as Councillors we all want it to be as fair as possible with as little pain as possible, but when we look at our quarterly budget review, it’s obvious that we do need to have rates harmonisation and we do need to look at how much money is coming in to achieve what we want to achieve.”

Rates harmonisation requires  the council to develop a new formula and a new rating structure for SVC across previously existing boundaries, replacing rates systems that existed under the previous structures.

The council said that the “impact of rates harmonisation on ratepayers will also be influenced significantly by land valuations determined every three years by the NSW Valuer General which provides the base for the calculation as required by legislation.”

“Council will undertake a range of activities over the next few months to ensure everyone has a wide understanding of the options and can easily provide their feedback,” said Mr Hyde.

“Activities will include workshop meetings, electronic and hard copy surveys and an information campaign.”

Council is hoping to establish the groundwork for rates harmonisation before the new Council is elected, allowing the new members to “consider and endorse a new, harmonised rating structure and appropriate strategies to address Council’s long term sustainability,” according to Mr Hyde.