Under what legal authority does Council levy rates?
The legislative authority and responsibilities of local governments are outlined by Federal Government as follows: Local government in Australia's Federation
Local government bodies have existed in Australia since the establishment of the Adelaide Corporation (now the City of Adelaide) in 1840. Across Australia, there are now about 560 local government bodies that promote local interests and deliver important services and infrastructure. These bodies are very diverse: the areas they cover range from less than a square kilometre to almost 380,000 square kilometres, and their populations range from a few hundred to more than 1 million.
Local government is a legislative responsibility of the States and Territories and is recognised in the Constitution of each State. State parliaments determine the roles and responsibilities of local governments, and those responsibilities vary from State to State.
Chapter 7 of the Constitution of Queensland 2001 notes the following in regard to the authority and responsibilities of local governments:
Chapter 7 Local Government
Part 1 System of local government
Section 70 System of local government
(1) There must be a system of local government in Queensland.
(2) The system consists of a number of local governments.
Section 71 Requirements for a local government
(1) A local government is an elected body that is charged with the good rule and local government of a part of Queensland allocated to the body.
The Local Government Act 2009, promulgated by the Queensland Parliament in terms of the Queensland Constitution, says the following:
Chapter 2 Local Governments
Part 1 Local governments and their constitution, responsibilities and powers
Section 9 Powers of local governments generally
(1) a local government has the power to do anything that is necessary or convenient for the good rule and local government of its local government area.
Chapter 4 Finances and accountability
Part 1 Rates and charges
Section 94 Power to levy rates and charges
(1) Each local government:
(a) must levy general rates on all rateable land within the local government area; and
(b) may levy:
(i) special rates and charges; and
(ii) utility charges; and
(iii) separate rates and charges.
Chapter 7 Other provisions Part 6 Other provisions Section 262 Powers in support of responsibilities
(3) The powers include all the powers that an individual may exercise, including for example:
(c) power to charge for a service or facility, other than a service or facility for which a cost-recovery fee may be fixed. Local Government Legitimacy and Rating Power
What does my rating category mean?
Bundaberg Regional Council operates a Revenue Statement, which means your land is categorised according to land use and/or demand for, or benefit from Council services and rated accordingly. Included with the rate notice is an Information Sheet that explains how property has come to be included in a particular rating category.
I bought this property but did not own it for the entire rating period and/or water consumption period. Why do I have to pay?
Please check your settlement statement to confirm whether a rate and/or water adjustment was done or contact your solicitor and/or agent for confirmation.
Are my regular payments listed individually on my rate notice?
No, this would add pages to the rate notice and ultimately increase production and postage costs. Alternatively, contact us for clarification of your account balance or details of payments received.
What should I do if I am unable to pay my rates on time?
If you are unable to pay your rates in full and on time, please contact us before the due date to organise a weekly/fortnightly/monthly payment arrangement.
Can I get my notice emailed?
Receiving your rate notice via email is now an option. Head to the eRates page to register.
How do I notify Council of my authorisation for a 3rd party to act on my behalf with regards to my rates and property?
Notifications will only be accepted from the registered owner of the property or in the case of a trust or a company, an authorised person of that trust or company.
Property(s) held in the name of individual person(s): In writing, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Bundaberg Regional Council, PO Box 3130 BUNDABERG QLD 4670 or by completing an Authority to Enquire - Rates Only form.
Property(s) held in the name of a trust or in a company name: In writing, either on company letterhead, or via company email email@example.com. Please quote the rate notice reference number, property address, current postal address and position title (e.g. Director).
If I have a payment commitment but am unable to make payment when it's due?
If you are unable to make a payment as arranged, please contact us beforehand to make alternative arrangements. Otherwise, your existing commitment may be terminated and you may be exposed to recovery action.
I have only just purchased my property, am I expected to pay the rate notice?
Yes, normally any new or unpaid rates owing on a property before purchase should have been adjusted in your favour in settlement figures. You may care to check settlement documents or contact your solicitor to confirm the nature of the rate adjustment made upon settlement.
Why can't my rates be linked to CPI increases?
The rates which a Council levies are community-driven and reflect the desire of the community for a certain level of service. If Council restricted rates increases to the level of inflation it could not successfully meet its community's minimum expectations and would not fulfil its obligations to diligently administer and develop the region.
For example, the community may be dissatisfied with public areas, parks and verges which are maintained too infrequently, but more frequent maintenance can result in higher costs which may lead to an increase in the rate greater than CPI. Council continually strives to achieve an acceptable balance between its rate increases and the provision of the minimum service level required by its community.
Why are Service Charges payable for properties which do not receive services?
Council's Water Access Charge and Sewerage Charge are levied to finance the capital cost of the Council's water and sewerage infrastructure, such as purification plants, reservoirs and pipes which are required to deliver water to Council's defined water supply areas and dispose of sewage from Council's defined sewerage areas. All ratepayers with properties within a water or sewerage area are required to pay a Water Access Charge and/or Sewerage Charge whether they are connected to the service or not.
The reason for this is that most ratepayers who own vacant land within a water or sewerage area and which is not currently connected to Council's infrastructure, plan to build on their property at some time in the future. The following simple example illustrates why Council charges everyone in a water or sewerage area a Water Access Charge and/or Sewerage Charge.
Example: consider that Council has 100 ratepayers who require a water supply. Council builds a water reservoir, purification plant, and pipes to supply those 100 ratepayers with water. Then one additional ratepayer finishes building their house on their previously vacant land and requests a water supply from Council. If Council had not provided for this in their water reservoir capacity nor laid pipes to service the additional property, the ratepayer would have to wait whilst Council built a new reservoir and would have to finance the entire cost of a Council work team laying the extra meters of pipe to extend the system to their property. That would cost all ratepayers in that situation thousands of dollars and would delay their receipt of a water supply during which they would have to pay to have water trucked in.
If that situation arose, ratepayers would rightly consider that Council was inefficient and ineffective. That scenario would also be wasteful and inefficient from Council's perspective as it obviously doesn't cost as much to build a water reservoir to service 10,000 ratepayers as it would to build one for 1000 ratepayers and then another 1000 in a couple of years' time and so on. It also makes financial and practical sense that, whilst Council's work crew is laying water pipes in an area, they lay them for the whole area, whether it be for water or sewerage services, rather than going back every time the next property at the end of the current service area requests a water or sewerage service. Therefore it benefits both Council and the ratepayer concerned if Council provides water and sewerage infrastructure to an entire area and if all the ratepayers in that area pay a portion of the cost of providing that infrastructure. That is a much lower cost than the ratepayer would have to pay if they requested water or sewerage services individually.
A ratepayer may never build on their vacant land, and may consider that they are paying for a potential service they will never benefit from. Whilst that is true, that scenario does not arise very often, as most people build on vacant land. However if a ratepayer doesn't plan to build on their property they will likely eventually sell it and a property that is capable of being connected to water and sewerage services should attract a higher market price than one that is not capable of connection, therefore the ratepayer still benefits from the provision of those services.
Are my rates subject to GST?
No, rates and charges that appear on your rate notice are exempt from GST.
Can I pay my rates in advance?
Bundaberg Regional Council rates can be paid in advance at any time either by making regular payments or making a lump sum payment. Please contact us if you need assistance. Please note that interest is not paid by Council to ratepayers for any credit balance.
Why doesn’t Council issue a tax invoice when rates are a form of tax?
Section 104 (1) of the Local Government Regulation 2012, states a local government may levy rates and charges only by a rate notice. Further details can be found on www.legislation.qld.gov.au.
Why does Council need to have a Australian Business Number (ABN)?
Local Government are required under Federal Legislation to have an ABN since its inception on 1 July 2000, as per A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999. Council’s current ABN was acquired with the formation of a new local government area for Bundaberg Regional Council at amalgamation in 2008. Further details can be found on www.legislation.gov.au.