3:16 PMOur council just took an extra $27 from our wallets.
Have you received your Council Rates notice for this year? Did you notice that the Manningham Council took a little more money than they should have?
It was only a small amount, about $27 per household. However they will continue to take this amount from you from now on, year after year into the future. And each year this amount will increase by around 5% (which is nearly twice the CPI).
Let me explain how this happened.
Did you notice the new Fire Service Levy on your council rates notice?
I understand what the state government is trying to do. Many people don't have adequate building insurance and the people who do where funding the Fire Service Levy for those who did not. So this change removes unfairness from the system.
However, that is not the point.
The point is that Manningham Council, on the behalf of Manningham residents, has been collecting money and making contributions to the Fire Service Levy for years. This money was paid to the state government for the Fire Service Levy -- and it came out of our rates.
Please see the Manningham City Council Annual Budget for 2012/2013. Page 24.
"The 2012/13 Budget also includes the collection of $1.10 million on behalf of the State Government for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade levy.."
That $1.10 million is approximately $27 per household. Not much, but still it is our money.
Now that all residents of Manningham are paying their full share of the fire service levy, Manningham no longer needs to pay this $1.10 million to the state government. So Manningham council should return this $27 back to each household by a reduction in rates.
But it will do no such thing.
Other councils in the area are returning this Fire Service Contribution to their residents.
Unless Manningham Council does the right thing, this amount will continue to be taken and will increase year after year, by around 5%, indefinitely into the future.
So this $1.1million from last years rates, will become $1.155 million for 2013/14 and will become $1.21 million for 2014/15 and so on into the future.
Because Manningham council is not returning this money to the residents, it becomes a little windfall for them and they can spend it on whatever they like.
You think I am making this up? Not at all.
Another nearby council has been much more responsible than the Manningham Council. Let me quote you from a letter I received from them a few weeks back.
"Prior to the introduction of the Fire Services Levy Act 2012, Council made a funding contribution to the MFB. This contribution under the FSPL also ceased on 30 June 2013 and has resulted in a one-off net cost saving to Council. This one-off saving is being returned to ratepayers by a lower than otherwise planned rate increase for the 2013/14 financial year. Council believe that giving back these savings to our ratepayers is the right thing to do..."
Yes, it is the right thing to do. However, Manningham council does not see it that way.
Manningham Council has not returned this money to ratepayers by a lower than otherwise planned rate increase. This can be seen by examining page iii on last year's budget, the 2012/2013 Annual Budget.
Before this Fire Service Levy change came about, when the Council was still paying part of our rates to the state government for the Fire Service Levy, Manningham council planned to increase rates by 5% in 2013/14. And that is precisely what they have done. There has been no reduction in our rates to compensate us for the saving our council now makes.
Did our council return this money to us by reducing the waste charges?
Consider the waste charges on your rates notice (for our rubbish bins, etc.) In 2012 the council planned an increase of 6% for 2013/14 (see page 45 of the 2012/13 Budget) however the waste charges for this year actually increased by only 4%. Did we get this $1.10 million back by a reduction in our waste charges?
No we did not.
A 6% increase in waste charges is approximately $630,000. A 4% increase is around $400,000. (See page iv of the 2012/13 Budget). So overall we were spared around a $230,000 increase. $230,000 is a very different number to the $1.155 million the council collected this year that would otherwise have gone toward the fire service levy.
Manningham council may say this money will go towards more services for us.
We may be led to believe that this money will be spent on other items that provide benefit to the community and that could be the case.
However, Manningham council recently took out a $7.9 million loan to meet it's superannuation obligations to it's staff. It is highly likely that a major part of this windfall will be used to repay the interest on this loan.
14 Aug 2013.
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