The Beagle Editor
The time has come to start a public awareness discussion about Councillor Lindsay Browns support for the abandonment of pensioner rate rebates and changes to the way council rates are levied on us all. He’s been talking about changing to an ICV “Improved Capital Value” formula moving away from the present UCV “ Unimproved Capital Value” arrangement that presently exists. The ICV reflects the property in the form it would be traded on the open market, so it is easily understood by ratepayers. Council's like it as there is little if any adjustment required to compare valuations to sales evidence. It is strongly challenged though because it would require significant investment to establish and maintain consistent and reliable data on property improvements to support the valuation process. Additionally the inclusion of the added value of improvements in the rateable value may create, it is feared, a disincentive for landholders to improve or maintain property to the highest and best use. Lastly it increases the need for supplementary valuations as updates to valuations are required whenever improvements are changed. For example, in Victoria, rates are based on capital improved value; whereas, NSW and Queensland both levy rates based on land values. Depending on which is used, there will be different groups within the community that are comparatively better or worse off. Keep in mind that the Eurobodalla General Manager comes from Victoria. It does make you wonder if the idea of ICV is actually Lindsay's or possibly hers. The provision of capital improved value would require accurate and reliable data on property improvements. Victoria has extensive databases with substantial information about individual improvements for properties which have been built up over many years. As capital improved values have not been used in NSW for over 30 years, this information has not been maintained within the valuation system. Consequently a move to use capital improved values would require substantial investment to source, collate and maintain built attribute data for all properties in the state. Just so that our own Councillors understand ICV: Periodic informal enquiries by the Valuer General have found that this information is not available in a comprehensive or complete record for all properties across NSW. While information may be available in some form through local councils or commercial organisations, the information is likely to be held in a range of forms which would require standardisation in order to be suitable for application as the base for mass valuations. Anecdotally, much of the information is held in hard copy or in scanned images and is unlikely to be suitable for incorporation into modern databases and computerised valuation models without substantial manual effort. Furthermore as data would need to be obtained from a variety of sources, the level of accuracy and consistency would likely be uncertain. This is expected to lead to costs in data validation and/or increased objections to valuations. Preliminary investigations conducted by the Office of the Valuer General suggest that a system wide implementation of capital improved values would need to be spread over a number of years and that costs would exceed $100 million. (or in Eurobodalla language 1 x Batemans Bay bridge or 2 x Aquatic performance centres) While it might be considered as a means to return higher rates to a Council the benefit to the community would be a negative and would further disadvantage those who can barely meet their rates at present. He’s also supported significant increases in unregulated fees and Charges by council often well above the CPI limits on the General Rate. Council are controlled by what they can put up with rate increases however they are at liberty to push the boundaries (within reason) of what they can charge in fees and services. On Monday Lindsay Brown will be standing for re-election to the Board of the NSW Local Government Shires Association where he currently holds the position of Vice President - Regional/Rural. His fellow Councillors; Pollock, Innes and Thomson will be there to ensure he gains the three allocated Eurobodalla votes. It is a hands raised open vote so Lindsay will be watching to see if his peers are actually supporting him. Keep in mind that there will be others from Rural and Regional Councils, possibly qualified and experienced with much to bring to the table who will also be standing and hopefully our councillors won't just be voting for Lindsay because he is "their mate" as that would be pathetic and not at all in the best interests of Eurobodalla ratepayers who want a dynamic, functioning and representative voice in the bigger arena. What they will be voting for is what Lindsay believes is the future direction of Local Government from a Rural and Regional perspective. The question must be asked, if Pollock, Innes and Thomson vote for him are they endorsing his support of changing the rating system to “Improved Capital Value”? And what other ideas does Lindsay hold that might not be in the best interest of Eurobodalla ratepayers.