If you are a Noosa homeowner there’s a pretty good chance you’re confused about the latest property revaluation from the State Government and what it might mean for your rates.
Is it true that your rates could soar if your valuation has jumped dramatically, and would this be the State Government’s fault ? Well, Council’s spin has some ratepayers worried judging by the questions being asked of the Ratepayers Association lately.
As we approach our next Noosa Council budget, let’s see if we can look through some of the smoke and mirrors and figure out what is actually going on.
After the previous property revaluation in 2021 our Council increased total general rates from $59.5 million last financial year to $66 million this year. That was an 11% increase, more than double the CPI at the time of 5.1%.
Hang on. Didn’t our Council tell us the ‘average’ ratepayer increase was 5.1%?.
Was this a misrepresentation, or just some tricky use of language?
So if there’s a big revaluation like those in 2021 and 2022, is it a fact that large rate increases must automatically follow?
Council has many different ways to ensure that ratepayers generally are not subject to large increases, no matter how much valuations have increased. And many councils including Noosa have had large revaluations many times in the past without large rate increases.
There may be some variability in individual rate changes following a revaluation, but the biggest problem of all is when Councils want to spend a lot more of your money. Someone has to pay for the big increase.
At budget time last year after the 2021 revaluation, Noosa Council decided they wanted an additional $6.5 million in general rates. That was an increase of 11% on what they collected the previous year (which they didn’t even spend, but that’s another story).
So they levied lower valuation properties (about 60% of the total) a ‘minimum general rate’, set at 5% above the previous minimum. The public then gets the Council Spin that the ‘average’ ratepayer is only subject to a CPI increase. Nothing to see here.
But wait, how does that add up to an overall 11% increase? Simple! Just levy the remaining 40% of ratepayers an ‘average’ increase of 15% to make up the extra $6.5 million Council decided it ‘needed’.
Don’t worry if there are complaints, it’s the State Government revaluation.
The real worry is that the 11% increase this year followed on from the 14% increase in general rate receipts the previous year (when CPI was just 1.9%).
What’s truly amazing is that Council didn’t need the extra money in either budget. In the 2 years leading up to their decision in June last year to gouge ratepayers for the second year, they had received an unprecedented $21.5 million in capital revenue grants from State and Federal Governments.
So despite the 2021 revaluation on which our current rates were set, Council could have kept the total general rate levy to CPI of 5.1%, instead of increasing it by 11%.
It’s a total fiction that large increases in land values automatically lead to large rate increases.
But it does lead to large increases in State Government land tax on the many highly priced investment properties in Noosa. That’s a reason for the State to carry out valuations in successive years when property prices have skyrocketed.
Now to the present. Is Council going to use the recent valuation increases to provide some cover for unnecessary rate increases again? Well, probably not …it’s an election year budget. But it can’t be ruled out judging by their recent poor history of levying far more in rates than they could possibly spend effectively.
There is no justification for any rate increase , they haven’t gone close to spending the huge grant windfalls and unnecessary rate increases of the last couple of years.
It will be interesting to see how the Council Spin explains what happens at budget time in June. The latest yearly CPI is over 7% which is the highest for many years. Don’t be surprised if this time the rate increase is lower than CPI. (Did I mention there’s an election looming?)
If that happens and the Council spin claims it’s because of Council’s good financial management, just remember that’s what we were told last year when the increase was more than double CPI.
No wonder there is increasing public comment about this Council abandoning residents. It’s not hard to see why State Governments south of the border brought in rate caps for councils years ago. Given the recent track record in Noosa, our only hope for relief this year is that election next March.
Keep watching for updates as budget drafts are made available by Council in coming weeks – if they are.
- Total Noosa General rate rises in the past two financial years are a massive 26%.
- Noosa Council has a huge, unspent, cash surplus.
- State property valuations are NOT tied to rates, and NOT an excuse to lift rates even further.
Adrian Williams. President, Noosa Shire Residents & Ratepayers Association.
Council will be deciding whether to release their draft budget at a Special Meeting on Monday (May 22nd). The agenda for that meeting lists ‘key highlights’, and as tipped by the President of Noosa Residents & Ratepayers Association, one ‘highlight’ says:
Proposed rate rises to be kept below CPI at 5.5% for the majority of ratepayers who continue to remain on the minimum rate.
But what about all the rest of the ratepayers? What is their ‘average’ general rate increase in total? Don’t the Councillors need to know before they approve the budget, and don’t residents need to know before they can comment?
Is the TOTAL general rates increase – like the last 2 years – much greater than CPI?
We shall see when the draft is made public if the information provided is sufficient to actually calculate the percentage increase and look beneath the Council’s glossy portrayal of this budget.