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Déjà vu: Consistency between what is said and what is done DOES matter

Next Tuesday's (Sept 10th, 2019) Council meeting will see Council staff rushing through a submission for endorsement in regards to possible changes to the rating method of shire properties from Unimproved Land Values to Capital Improved Values. The staff have left it to the eleventh hour and have made their own minds up as to what might support in terms of changing the rating system that appears to be driven by the State government via the Office of Local Government. This is not the first time the idea has been mooted. What follows is a letter to the editor from December 3rd 2017 on the very subject. Nearly two years later it still makes valuable reading. Dear Beagle Editor, Some readers and new councillors might be interested in the following in regards to the recent discussions in these pages about the controversial submission put forward by Councillor Lindsay Brown (then Mayor) to the Formal Deputation to General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6–Inquiry into Local Government in New South Wales in regards to shifting rate calculations from Land Value to Capital Improvement Value or CIV and the revision of pensioner rates rebates. The Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association, in their blog wrote at the time: Thursday, September 10, 2015 Mayor considers Capital Improved Value as an alternate to raise more rates

Mayor Lindsay Brown has indicated in his submission to the the NSW Legislative Council’s inquiry into local government his interest in considering a move away from land rates based on unimproved value to capital improved value, which refers to the total market value of the land and improved value of the property and that rate exemptions such as pensioner rebates should be reviewed for sustainability and equity The ERA was surprised to learn that Mayor Lindsay Brown made a submission without any community consultation to the NSW Legislative Council’s inquiry into local government.

You can find the full submission and the excellent Letter to the Editor (in full) by Kerry Foster below

When will community consultation start? When will Council post a copy of Cr Brown’s statement to the NSW Legislative Council to the council website? Will Council engage the community on the upcoming Review of Local Government Rates by IPART, and will Council inform the community that they too can make submissions? Will Council ensure there is robust community debate about its proposition that rates are based on Capital Improvement Values?

The ERA Team



Above: The ERA Blog page of Sept 10th, 2015

There was a response Letter to the Editor of the Bay Post from Kerry Foster. which was published on September 10th, 2015 however it was highly edited. The following is the complete letter from Kerry Foster to the Editor of the Bay Post regarding the submission above. The full, unedited letter reads: I would be very grateful if the Mayor and his fellow councillors would bring the community into a discussion about Council’s advocacy to the NSW Parliament to shift rate calculations from Land Value to Capital Improvement Value or CIV. Like me, you may be surprised to learn that Cr Lindsay Brown recently, on 17 August 2015, made a statement to the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No 6 –Inquiry into Local Government in New South Wales. In his statement Cr Brown, among other things, argued that there is a “need for more equitable rate calculation methods with a shift from land value to capital improved value as the basis for rating. Capital improved value or CIV refers to the total market value of the land plus the improved value of the property including the house, other buildings and landscaping. A CIV calculation is significantly different when compared to a rating calculation based only on land value. Where did this idea for a CIV come from? Well a little bit of research and I found that Dr Catherine Dale, General Manager of Eurobodalla Shire Council was the former CEO of City of Boroondara, a municipality with some of Melbourne’s wealthier suburbs. The City of Boroondara elected to adopt the Capital Improvement Value method of valuation in 1997-1998, as “the most equitable way to distribute the rate burden among the community.” Perhaps Dr Dale’s depth of experience could be shared with the community so that we understand how this recommendation, if successful, would affect our hip pocket. Cr Brown also made a case to the Standing Committee that rate exemptions such as pensioner rebates should be reviewed for sustainability and equity. This statement contrasts Council’s strong claims to IPART about the equity and financial sustainability of the Eurobodalla’s rating strategy, and hardship policies. Both in its application for a Special Rate Variation, and in its Fit for the Future Improvement Plan. Nowhere in either submission did Council mention its intention to advocate for rate calculation methods based on Capital Improvement Values. When will community consultation start? When will Council post a copy of Cr Brown’s statement to the NSW Legislative Council to the council website?

(EDITORS NOTE: The document has NOT been loaded to Council's website even though it had been requested many times however it is available online here away from the Council's website.)



Above: You can read the submission HERE Will Council engage the community on the upcoming Review of Local Government Rates by IPART, and will Council inform the community that they too can make submissions? Will Council ensure there is robust community debate about its proposition that rates are based on Capital Improvement Values? When the Mayor speaks to the NSW Legislative Council, he represents the views of the Eurobodalla community. When he neglects to tell us that he will make recommendations that affect our livelihood he neglects his constituents. It may be tiresome to hear it said over, and over, but consistency between what is said and what is done matters. Kerry Foster, Malua Bay The original December 3rd 2017 article stated this as well: Its a significant day today December 3rd 2017 with a convoy of Councillors and Council Staff heading north to visit Aquatic Centres and then a “Conference” in Sydney's Hyatt Hotel for a few days. Though they haven't raised any Motions to the conference on behalf of Eurobodalla residents they will be voting for the new board and mate Lindsay Brown is standing for re-election. If they now know (because they all read the Beagle and staff read the Beagle) that Lindsay is behind the CIV and revision of pensioner rates rebates then a vote for Lindsay is a vote AGAINST the Eurobodalla ratepayers who have had NO SAY whatsoever in this matter. Community report of the jaunt will be really something to look out for now. Will public reporting of the jaunt or spectacle occur though as it should ? Will the report say how they voted for "good mate" Lindsay? Yours Very interested resident and ratepayer. Name and address supplied We all now know the outcome of the election during the Conference. Lindsay Brown was elected and while we don't know the voting of the Eurobodalla Councillors who attended Blind Freddy might theorise that his fellow Eurobodalla Councillors voted for him. What transpired after that appointment to the Board of Local Government NSW is another story. To bring you up to date; you can read Council's 'as yet to be endorsed' staff submission here that supports allowing nonmetropolitan councils to choose between the Capital Improved Value and Unimproved Value (UV) methods as the basis for setting ad valorem rates at the rating category level; and supporting that: After the NSW Valuer General has established the database to determine Capital Improved Values for rating purposes (see Recommendation 3), councils be given the choice to directly buy valuation services from private valuers that have been certified by the NSW Valuer General.

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