The Mirror News

C51 helps improve rates income

AFTER the Minister for Planning Justin Madden stopped South Gippsland Shire Council from considering some categories of planning applications in the Farming Zone through imposition of Amendment C48 from May 2008 to May 2009, Council readjusted its anticipated rate income down by $250,000 due to its the impact on property values.

With the relative improvement of the rural planning situation introduced by Ministerial Amendment C51, Council has been able to lift its expectations of rate income.

The July financial performance report which was put to Council’s September 22 meeting showed a revised estimate of $470,000 income via supplementary rates, up $270,000 from the original budget estimate of $200,000 in supplementary rates.

This effectively more than restores the lost income level suffered from Amendment C48 although it does not replace the year’s income lost for the period while Amendment C48 was effective.

This significant increase was attributed to a mix of reasons including more new development than expected, revaluated market trends and changes to the Farm Zone.

Council’s Finance Manager Tom Lovass attributed some $40,000 to 50,000 of the revised income to property values improving as a result of Amendment C51, with small bush blocks particularly adding in value.

Also, despite being early in the financial year, building activity is already showing as significantly better than expected.

However Mr. Lovass acknowledged that the largest component of the supplementary rate income rise was due to the Valuer-General requiring property values in the Toora North area to be adjusted marginally upwards from the values assessed by Council’s in-house team.

The same finance report also shows that supplementary kerbside garbage service income is expected to be $18,763 higher than the original $14,000 estimated, as the development of additional properties leads to more households receiving the collection service.

The Planning and Building report to Council’s August 25 meeting advised that the value of building work from building permits issued in the January to March quarter 2010 was 31.9% greater than that approved during the same period in 2009.

Figures for the period April-June were not available at the time of that report, however the Acting Planning Manager Paul Stampton has since advised that the 2010 April-June quarter permits totaled building work valued at $28.358 million, which is approximately a 33% increase on the value of the same quarter in 2009.

NOT ‘SPARE’ MONEY

Mayor Cr Jim Fawcett explained that the additional $270,000 in previously unexpected rate income would not be spare money splash around.

“We do not have a specific budgetary purpose for the extra income but it will be used to add to the surplus – to underlie the profit.

“We are guessing that the next call coming on unfunded superannuation liabilities may cost us around $1 million over a two to three year period, and the revised income would give us more choices of the method of payment for such a call.”

The Mayor also suggested that some of the extra income might be used “to bolster the temporary extra planning appointments” that Council was making to cope with an anticipated peak demand in both planning permit applications arising from Amendment C51 and in strategic planning projects being undertaken.

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