SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council rates notices, all 20,428 of them in fact, are beginning to arrive in either physical or electronic letterboxes throughout the municipality as well as beyond in the case of absentee property-owners.
While the vast majority of the rates notices are still distributed in posted hard copy format, 4,843 of the notices are now emailed and this percentage is growing, according to a Shire spokesperson.
Rates may be paid in three different ways; the first is in a lump sum by February 15, 2024, while the second method is via four instalments payable by September 30, and November 30, 2023, and by February 28 and May 31, 2024.
The third means is nine payments spread evenly over nine months, with the first due in September 2023, and the final payment in May 2024.
Those paying their rates by four instalments will receive reminder notices when their next payment is coming due.
Of the total number of rates notices, 14,800 fall within the General category, which applies to all rateable residential properties.
There are 3251 Farm rates notices going out to owners, together with 643 Commercial property notices, and 374 rates notices for properties considered as Industrial.
Vacant Land accounts for 1092 of the rates notices, with 188 for Rural Vacant Land, 56 notices for Other Vacant Land, and 22 notices for properties classified as Cultural and Recreational.
The operators of the two windfarms in the Shire will also be receiving their respective rates notices shortly.
The total amount of rates generated by the 2023/2024 notices is expected to be some $50.5 million, plus a further $4.9 million in garbage collection and waste management charges.
South Gippsland Shire Council uses a differential rating system, with a different rate in the dollar of Capital Improved Value or CIV for the different property types or categories.
In 2023/2024, South Gippsland Shire’s General or residential rate is 0.283928; the Industrial rate is 0.298125; the Commercial rate is 0.298125; the Farm rate is 0.198749; the Vacant Rural rate is 0.198750; the Vacant Rural rate is 0.198750; the Other Vacant rate is 0.567857, and the Cultural and Recreational rate is 0.141964.
All of these individual differential rate categories are 12.3 per cent less than they were in 2022/2023.
The rates notices themselves will also look a little different this year as the Victorian Government’s Local Government Legislative Amendment (Rating and Other Matters) Act 2022 now requires councils to include all of the other various rates they impose in addition to the rate being applied to the particular property listed on the notice.
The amount of rates charged in each notice is based on the value of the property as determined by the Valuer General Victoria for the purpose of rating and also for land tax, with revaluation now being done annually.
Valuers use comparative property sales, rental data, location, size, age and condition of a property to determine each property’s individual valuation.
In the past, councils across the State revalued the properties within their local government area every seven years, which was subsequently reduced to two-yearly intervals, with South Gippsland Shire’s revaluations carried out by a team of valuers employed by the Shire.
The valuation for 2023/2024 was undertaken and certified by the Valuer General Victoria and came into force as at January 1, 2023.
The average valuation increase across the entire South Gippsland Shire is 20.44 per cent, which isn’t as large as last year when there was a significant change in coastal areas, however specific groups will experience a greater than average rise in property values.
This year, the greatest growth in valuation will be experienced by farmers across the region, with an average increase of 30 per cent, with the biggest jumps at Welshpool and Toora (36 per cent) and at Meeniyan and Mirboo (34 per cent).
The differential rate for farming properties is less than that for the General/residential category.
Neighbouring councils also use a differential rating system but the rate in the dollar can vary, for example; Wellington Shire’s Farm Differential is 0.002744 rate in the dollar, with Baw Baw Shire at 0.002001 and East Gippsland Shire at 0.00205498.
South Gippsland Shire’s towns with the greatest hikes in valuation are Meeniyan (30 per cent) and Port Welshpool and Toora (26 per cent). No properties in these locations have decreased in value.
Conversely, some properties in Venus Bay and Waratah Bay have seen a small decrease in their value.
Property valuations that have gone up will see corresponding and in some cases significant increases to their respective rate notices when compared to last year.
The State Government issues a rate cap for Victorian councils each year that sets the maximum amount of revenue a council may raise in the rating year.
The rate cap for 2023/2024 is 3.5 per cent, which does not mean that all rate notices will increase by 3.5 per cent, but it does mean that the average rate notice across the Shire will increase by 3.5 per cent, depending on the change in the newly adopted valuation.
Some property rates will go up by more than 3.5 per cent and some will rise by less than 3.5 per cent, depending on how individual property values have changed from last year.
A property whose valuation has grown by the Shire average of 20.44 per cent will see an increase in rates of 3.5 per cent on last year.
If an individual property valuation has gone up by more than 20.44 per cent, the rates will increase by more than 3.5 per cent, and vice versa.
Owners have the right to object to their property’s valuation if they consider the valuation is not reflective of market value, and the process for doing so will be detailed on the rates notice.
Market values have actually slowed and cooled since the January 1, 2023 valuation, however the rates for 2023/2024 will be worked out on how much each property was worth according to the Valuer General Victoria as at January 1, 2023.
Accordingly, the 2024/2025 rates will be based on the worth of properties as at the next valuation to be undertaken by the Valuer General Victoria.
Shire Senior Revenue Officer Aileen Clark urged South Gippsland Shire Council ratepayers to contact the Shire if they believe they will have difficulty in meeting their rate obligations.
“We’re here to help, and people are welcome to find out how we can set up a payment plan that works for them and for the Shire,” she said.
“More people are paying their rates by instalment than there used to be, and that’s much better than getting into a bind about having to pay them in one go.
“Look on your rates notice for information about the payment methods and how to get in touch with the Shire’s Rates team,” Ms Clark said.
“The Rates team is a good port of call, too, if you have any questions about your rates notice or you want to find out about how to appeal the valuation of your property to the Valuer General Victoria’s office.”The Shire offices in Smith Street in Leongatha are open between 10 am and 3 pm from Monday to Thursday, or ring them on 5662 9200, or go to the Shire’s website at www.south gippsland.vic.gov.au/rates