YARRIAMBIACK Shire Council has not complied with the state government’s average rate cap of 2.25 per cent, with average rates increasing by 2.57 per cent across the shire.
The discovery comes after the Essential Services Commission released its third annual report on councils this week. The rate cap limit is set annually by the Minister for Local Government.
The impact on ratepayers in the Yarriambiack shire in 2018-19 financial year comes to $5.04 on average.
The council’s chief executive Jessie Holmes said the mistake was because the council received its property valuations late, which affected budget preparations.
“It was a revaluation year and our valuations came in five weeks after they were supposed to. We have a tight timeframe to get out our Budget, so we had to use last year’s valuations to work out the rates,” she said.
“When the valuations for this year did come back, they were higher than the previous year’s. So adjustments came back with an additional $5 added to each property.”
Ms Holmes said the council would rectify its mistake in the 2019-20 financial year.
“It would have been costly to reissue rates notices again, so we decided that we’ll either credit it back to residents next year or adjust our rates – we want to do it in the most financially viable way,” she said.
The council will net an additional $39,000 in revenue due to the error.
The commission’s Marcus Crudden said Yarriambiack was one of only four out the state’s 79 councils that didn’t comply with the average rate cap.
“Four councils were slightly over the cap but had reasonable explanations mainly relating to the timing of property valuations, and all have committed to fixing the error in next year’s rates notices,” he said.
At its June meeting earlier this year, the council chose to amend its 2018-19 Budget to increased the farm rate differential from 23 per cent to 28 per cent.