Council rates blunder

By Kyra Gillespie

Cardinia council have been overcharging residents for their rates, an independent report has revealed.

The Essential Services Commission’s annual council monitoring report found that Cardinia Shire was at risk of an ‘immaterial non-compliance’ with the Victorian Government’s rate cap of 2.25 per cent.

Cardinia residents were overcharged an average $1.22 per rateable assessment, an equivalent of $52,765 across all rateable properties.

A council media statement explains that the slip-up was due to “slower than expected property development across the municipality”, resulting in the over-calculation of the total number and value of all rateable properties in the Valuer General’s final report.

To comply with the rate cap, the capped average rate must not exceed the base average rate by more than the average rate cap or higher cap, according to the Essential Services Commission.

“The Essential Services Commission monitors and reports annually on council compliance through rate caps,” an Essential Services Commission spokesperson said.

“Councils are required to submit annual compliance information to the commission by 30 September each year. We then assess this compliance information and release an annual compliance report.

“This matter came to our attention during an assessment of Cardinia Shire Council’s annual compliance information.”

To amend the blunder, ratepayers paying in instalments will have the rate adjustment applied to their third instalment notice in February 2019, while ratepayers who have already paid 2018-19 rates in full will be credited on the 2019-20 rates notice.

If the additional amount paid exceeds $35, customers will be provided with the option of a credit or a refund.

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