Have your say on council charges

RELATED: Council looks at rates

MEMBERS of the community have a chance to have their say how Wellington Shire Council collects its revenue.

Council has developed its 2015-18 rating strategy to better explain its rates and charges.

The draft strategy is now available for the public to view and comment on.

There is often confusion about how council decides on its rates and charges because there has not been a document which explained the rationale behind the decisions.

The development of a formal rating strategy will provide council and the community with an opportunity to examine the rationale and discuss the merits of options available to collect revenue.

The Victorian Auditor-General recommended in February 2013 local governments have rating strategies.

Mayor Carolyn Crossley said the strategy had been developed to explain the rating system, the choices available to council under state legislation and compare various systems when raising income from rates and charges.

“Decisions about the rating strategies and systems need to be explainable, not in an ad hoc way, but in a considered way so that the reasoning behind the decisions are transparent,” she said.

“This is an opportunity for residents to examine the rationale and discuss the merits of the various options available to council when raising revenue for all the important services and projects that are identified each year in the annual budget.”

Councillor Patrick McIvor said strategy would help council justify how it raised revenue.

“What tends to happen is we go out to public consultation with our budget and people tend to get caught up in realm of ‘what projects are happening’,” he said.

“What tends to get lost in there is how we’re actually rating or taxing people, how we’re charging people, to raise those funds to deliver those services.”

Cr McIvor anticipated groups such as a Victorian Farmers Federation, which has been critical of council’s rating of farmers, to make submissions.

“The projects tend to be the focus of the budget, (but in) this the systems that are the focus (of the rating strategy process),” he said.

“It establishes a bit more stability in how we raise our rates, rather than every year go through the same old discussion and just doing what we’ve always done. It’s a great chance to justify why we’re doing what we’re doing and how.”

To view the draft Rating Strategy 2015-2018 can be viewed on the Wellington Shire Council website or in hard copy form at council’s services centres in Sale and Yarram or all shire libraries.

Submissions must be made by 5pm on Thursday, February 26 and should be addressed to the General Manager Corporate Services, Wellington Shire Council, PO Box 506, Sale, Vic 3850.

Council will consider any submissions during its ordinary meeting on Tuesday, March 17 from 6pm. Members of the public are welcome to all open sessions of the council or view them online at www.wellington.vic.gov.au/livemeetings

Anyone wishing to speak about their submission can attend the meeting or have someone speak on their behalf.

For more information phone council’s finance manager on 1300 366 244.