COVID-19: Regulation to Wreck Rates Freeze Thursday, April 09, 2020
Households and businesses across the State will be denied a freeze on their Council rates without urgent action to avert statutory property revaluations.

Almost all WA Local Governments recently committed to a zero rates increase this year in recognition of the widespread hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the WA Local Government Association has identified that while Councils may intend to set budgets with zero rates adjustments, individual ratepayers may still face increases.

Depending on the type of property, each ratepayer is apportioned rates based on the asset's rental or unimproved value – determined by the Valuer General’s Office – relative to the value of all properties in their community.

WALGA President, Mayor Tracey Roberts today warned if the revaluation processes were to proceed this year, then some individual ratepayers could end up paying more despite the best intentions of their Council to keep rates unchanged.

She said that the Local Government sector was calling on the State Government to urgently redress the situation and if necessary introduce legislation to delay the revaluations by the Valuer General’s Office.

“Much of how government impacts the community has needed to be modified to protect people in these extraordinary times and postponing the proposed revaluations should be part of that response,” Mayor Roberts said.

“If the State Government genuinely wants to enable Councils to deliver a rates freeze for all ratepayers this year, then it has to remove the obstacle created by the statutory revaluations.”

Mayor Roberts said ratepayers, in particular homeowners, often confused how rates were calculated assuming that the amount payable varied only with price movements in the general housing market.

She said any downturn caused by COVID-19 could consequently have many ratepayers believing that their rates will also automatically be lower.

“Rates are a proportionate share based on the value of your property in relation to your neighbours and the local community,” she said.

“If you improve the value of your property by an extension for example your home’s relative value and proportionate share will increase, but if the whole market changes your relativity remains the same.”