In 2014 the Labor Government made an election commitment to cap council rates at the rate of inflation, keeping them in check with the cost of living. In 2015 the Government appointed the Essential Services Commission (ESC) to provide advice on the concept. A final framework report along with draft guidance material will be provided to the Minister for Finance and Minister for Local Government by 31 October 2015.
The Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Authority are both opposed to rate capping for various reasons including the loss of Local Government’s autonomy in decision making. Both organisations have cited that rate capping will result in the decrease of council services or price rises in other areas.
At the Vicsport LGA Forum which was held on 19 August 2015 and attended by 35 local government staff members, over 80% of attendees believed that rate capping would result in sport participation being more expensive. The discussion included the view that many councils will potentially be required to recoup a greater percentage of facility provision costs than is currently passed on to user groups or decrease the services that are provided to sport. It is also to be noted that a number of the LGAs in attendance stated that the variance in finances able to be generated by sporting organisations would also likely be taken into account regarding any policy change related to recouping of costs.
The State Government has stated that rate capping will ensure greater efficiency and equity across Victoria. In February 2015 the Minister for Finance, Robin Scott said “Our plan means more efficiency and accountability in the way councils increase their rates, as well as greater sustainability in the sector.”
With cost consistently raised as a barrier to participation, Vicsport is obviously concerned with any initiatives that have the potential to decrease involvement in sport and physical activity. Therefore Vicsport is interested in obtaining feedback and further information from all members and stakeholders in this regard. Members wishing to provide feedback are encouraged to send their views to [email protected] or contact the office on 9926 1376. All feedback received will inform Vicsport’s discussions with State and Local Government on this issue.
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