Grilled on rate cap policy

The Victorian Opposition’s policy to introduce a rate cap for councils came under scrutiny when the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Richard Wynne and the Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Jacinta Allan, addressed last month’s Rural Councils Victoria (RCV) Forum in Melbourne.

RCV Chair, Councillor Rob Gersch said while Mayors and CEOs from the 38 rural councils warmly welcomed the Opposition’s commitment to invest $1 billion in regional and rural infrastructure, they strongly questioned the party’s recent rate cap policy.

“Members expressed strong concern that having to seek exemption from rate capping through the Economic Services Commission would add significantly to red tape and costs for rural councils.

“Mr Wynne told councils he would consult them to ensure the cap did not jeopardise the sustainability of rural councils, and he is willing to explore with them whether there is a better measure than CPI for limiting rate increases.”

Cr Gersch welcomed the commitment from the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan for his commitment not to introduce rate capping.

“Mr Ryan told councils that both the Country Roads and Bridges fund and the Regional Growth Fund are currently under consideration in Budget Estimates hearings.

“Rural councils have assured the government many times that these programs are strongly supported by rural Councils and rural communities, and we look forward to hearing that decisions have been made to continue both of them into the future.”

 More than 60 mayors, councillors and CEOs from Victoria’s 38 rural councils attended the Forum.

 RCV is the peak body for Victoria’s 38 rural councils. It advocates for sustainable, liveable and prosperous rural communities and delivers projects that provide support and solutions on issues shared by the state’s rural councils.

 Rural Councils Victoria is supported by the Victorian Government’s $3.3 million Networked Rural Councils program.