Why do you have to pay council rates?
Councils help local communities run smoothly. They administer various Local Government laws and regulations to help maintain and improve services and facilities for the community. These services include community services, sporting and recreation services, environmental planning, public health, environmental protection and waste collection, treatment and disposal. The rates you pay allow your council to fund these services.
How does a council decide how much you have to pay in rates and charges?
Each council is required to determine the combination of rates, charges, fees and pricing policies needed to fund the services it provides to the community. This is called a revenue policy. The revenue policy contains a rating structure that determines which rates and charges you will have to pay and how they will be calculated. Charges are generally determined on either an annual basis or according to usage - or they may be a combination of both, for example, water supply charges.
Councils can choose how they calculate and distribute rates among categories of rateable properties in the council area. For each category or sub-category, rates can be calculated in one of three ways. They can be based entirely on the land value of the property on a combination of the land value of the property and a fixed amount per property entirely on the land value, but subject to a minimum amount.
The land value is determined by the Land and Property Information Division of the Department of Lands (formerly known as the NSW Valuer General's Office) www.lands.nsw.gov.au
What can you do if you don't agree with the categorisation of your property?
Categories are important, because rates differ depending on the category of the land. So if your land is, for example, categorised as residential you may pay a lower rate per dollar of land value than if your land is categorised as business.
If you are not satisfied with the category given to your property, you may apply to council for the category to be reviewed. If you do this, council must notify you of their decision and the reasons for that decision. If you still do not agree with the category given to your property, you may appeal to the Land and Environment Court. You must do this within 30 days of receiving council's review decision. Contact the court to find out how to lodge an appeal.
Can Council change the category of your land?
Yes. However, they must notify you of this change and advise that you can seek a review by the Council if you don't agree with the category. This notice must also explain your appeal rights to the Land and Environment Court.
What if you don't agree with the land value of your property?
Councils don't determine your land value for rating purposes. Land is valued by independent valuers contracted to LPI (Land and Property Information) in accordance with the Valuation of Land Act 1916 (as amended). These valuations are carried out every three (3) years and you should get a valuation notice after it is done.
If you don't agree with the land value, you have 60 days to object. You can obtain an objection form from Council or by contacting the LPI by calling 1300 052 637 or go to LPI website: http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/
Even if you lodge an objection, you must still pay your rates
while your objection is being considered. Whatever the Department of Lands decides about your objection, they must advise you in writing. If you still don't agree with the valuation, you have limited time to appeal to the Land and Environment Court. The response sent by the Valuer General will explain the final date for an appeal.
Is there any way of knowing what your rates and charges will be before receiving your rate notice?
Every year, before the final amounts are fixed, councils must prepare a draft management plan that includes their proposed revenue policy for the following year. This policy must include details of all rates and charges that Council is proposing to levy on ratepayers. The draft management plan must be made available to the public.
Can you object to what council is proposing?
The draft management plan must be put on exhibition to give members of the public an opportunity to comment. This usually happens around April or May each year. Councils must consider any submissions by the public before adopting the plan. This is your opportunity to raise any issues about the rates and charges for the following year. Once the rates and charges have been adopted for a particular year, they cannot be changed until the next year.
What is rate pegging?
The government sets a limit on the total amount of income that a council can raise from certain rates and charges. This is called the rate-peg percentage and it is specified by the Minister for Local Government each year.
Because of rate pegging, Council's overall rates revenue cannot increase by more than the percentage increase approved by the Minister. If overall land values rise, councils may have to reduce or otherwise adjust the amounts levied per dollar so that total income does not grow by more than the percentage increase approved by the Minister.
Can your rates increase by more than the rate-peg percentage?
Yes. Rate-pegging applies to a council's overall general income and not to rates on individual properties. Within rate-pegging it is possible for some rates to increase by more than the rate-peg limit while others may increase by less than the rate-peg limit. In some cases, rates may decrease from the previous year. A council's rating structure and valuation changes are the main factors that will determine what happens to rates on an individual property. Rating structures may change significantly from year to year.
Are all rates and charges limited by rate-pegging?
No. Only certain rates and charges are subject to rate-pegging. Rates and charges for waste management and stormwater are not subject to rate-pegging.
Is there any way that councils can increase their income by more than the rate-peg limit?
Councils can apply to the Minister for Local Government to increase their general income by more than the rate-peg limit. This is called a special variation application. The council must include details of its intention to apply for a special variation in its draft management plan and consider any submissions received from the public. If approved, the Minister will specify the percentage by which the council may increase its general income.
Is there any way to control the increases on rates and charges that are not subject to rate-pegging?
Even though certain rates and charges are not subject to rate-pegging, councils are still required to provide details of what they are proposing to charge in their draft management plan and must consider submissions from the public before adopting those rates and charges. Annual charges for domestic waste management services and stormwater must be calculated to reflect the reasonable cost of providing those services to the community. Maximum levels of income are set for the Stormwater levy.
Do you have to pay a domestic waste management service charge if you don't use the service?
Yes. In accordance with section 496 of the Local Government Act 1993, councils are required to levy an annual charge for providing a domestic waste management services on all parcels of rateable land for which the service is available, whether or not it is actually used. It is considered that all property owners should contribute to the current and future provisions of waste services. Please contact Council's Environmental Services regarding waste services on 9330 6400.
If you don't use the service, do you have to pay the same amount as those who do use it?
If your property is within the garbage scavenging area and categorised as ratable then you have to pay the charge whether or not you avail yourself of the service.
As a pensioner, are you eligible for a concession or rebate on your rates?
Concessions are available for eligible pensioners as defined in section 575 of the Act. To be an eligible pensioner you must receive a pension from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), and be entitled to a pensioner concession card issued by the Commonwealth Government or a DVA Card with TPI or EDA embossed on the card. You can only claim a concession on the property if you are the owner and it is the sole or principal place you live.
How do I apply for a pensioner concession?
You need to complete a pensioner concession application form. You can obtain these forms from Council by contacting:
Mail: PO Box 205, Hurstville BC NSW 1481
Telephone: 9330 6400
If you are eligible, what concessions are you entitled to?
Half of the total of your ordinary rates and domestic waste management service charge, up to a maximum of $250, is the standard pensioner concession rebate.
Council is pleased to extend a voluntary additional rebate to eligible pensioners in the whole Georges River Council local government area of $75 per rating assessment, to those eligible pensioners who had applied for rebates prior to 1 July 2016.
New applications after this date will receive the standard pensioner concession rebate.
Does the amount of the concession increase with inflation or in line with rate increases?
No. The amounts are fixed by the NSW Government.
Is there any plan to increase the concession amounts?
The NSW Government determines the amount of the concessions and the level has remained constant for many years. This is a question for your Sate Government representative.
Can councils offer additional concessions for pensioners?
Yes, the cost of providing additional concessions must be met by the ratepayers of council. It is up to each council to decide whether to grant additional concessions.
Georges River Council is pleased to now extend a voluntary pensioner rates rebate to eligible pensioners in the whole local government area, now covering the former Hurstville City Council and Kogarah City Council areas. This rebate is $75 per rates assessment in addition to the standard pensioner concession for those eligible pensioners who had applied prior to 1 July 2016 for the standard concession. New applications received after this date will be eligible for the standard concession only.
Can you be exempt from paying council rates?
All land within a Local Government area is rateable unless it is exempt. These include parcels of land within a national park and land that belongs to a religious body and used for that purpose or a school or a public hospital, for example. Unless you meet the exemption criteria outlined in the Local Government Act, you cannot be exempt from paying rates.
When are my rates due and payable?
The rating period commences on the 1 July each year and concludes on 30 June. Rates are due for payment in full on 31 August each year, unless you pay by instalments.
Instalments are due each year on:
- 31 August
- 30 November
- 28 February
- 31 May each year
How are rates calculated?
Your rates are calculated based on the land value of your property, which does not include the value of your home. This value is determined by Land and Property Information NSW and is typically reviewed every three years. If you own a strata titled property, the land value of the entire site is divided by the unit entitlement (listed on your strata plan) to ascertain the land value for each unit.
The rate in the dollar adopted by Council each year and the rating category based on the use of the land determine the rates to be levied. The current rating structure can be found on our Rates and Rebates page
Are there penalties for late payment of rates?
Yes. Any amount due and unpaid by a payment date will attract a daily interest charge on the overdue amount. There is a 5 day interest free period for late payments from the due dates.
What should I do if I am having difficulty paying my rates?
If you are having difficulty paying your rates, you should contact Council’s Rates Department on 9330 6400 as soon as possible with a view to entering into a payment arrangement. It is preferable to get in touch with Council before your account becomes overdue. If rates remain unpaid without making arrangements Council may take recovery action.