Chair addresses Local Government Ratings System Review
Victoria’s rural communities have called on the state government for help to support the unique needs of people living in rural areas.
At a public hearing Cr Mary-Ann Brown, the Chair of Rural Councils Victoria (RCV), told the Local Government Ratings System Review that rural councils and their communities are struggling to keep up with the demand for services.
RCV’s submission to the review states that rural councils do not have sufficient revenue to deliver essential services to their communities, and this is impacting on liveability of rural Victorians.
RCV Chair Cr Mary-Ann Brown told the public hearing:
“A new funding model is needed for rural councils across the state.”
“RCV believes a broader taxation and funding model inquiry is necessary to address the serious issues facing rural councils in meeting the needs of our communities, so that they thrive and prosper.”
“Rural councils need greater certainty regarding their funding model and revenue sources in order to provide essential services to their communities.”
“High level and adequately funded services delivery will not only lead to population retention, but will also attract new residents to rural Victoria, ultimately increasing the rate-paying base. Following this, increases in the rural Victorian population will address critical skill shortages and gaps experienced in many rural communities, which is resulting in lost investment opportunities and constraining economic growth for the whole of Victoria.”
Cr Brown said a KPMG report commissioned by the State Government in 2017, Rural and Regional Councils Sustainability Reform Program (December 2017), supports RCV’s calls for a new taxation and funding model inquiry.
Cr Brown also told the panel:
“With a declining and ageing population, rural communities need more services from their councils including aged and community care, childcare, libraries and other services.”
“Our submission to the Local Government Rating System Review shows that the proportion of rural household income consumed by rates is almost double that of households in metropolitan council areas.”
“It is patently unfair that rural households pay a disproportionate amount of their income on rates.”
“Unlike metropolitan and regional-city councils, rural councils are unable to raise significant funds from fees and fines, such as from parking.”
RCV member councils comprise 11.5 per cent of the Victorian population, 77.2 per cent of the state’s land area and 62 per cent of Victoria’s local roads network.
The impact of a dispersed and small population spread over a large geographic area presents a number of challenges for rural councils in meeting the needs of their communities. These include:
Rural Councils Victoria’s submission to the review is available in full on the website. View it here.