MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire’s contentious Municipal Charge, now $180 per domestic rate notice, is to be reviewed, shire CEO Carl Cowie told the 13 April council meeting.
Responding to a question from Joe Lenzo of Safety Beach, Mr Cowie said the review could result in a change to the flat-rate charge starting in the 2016-17 financial year budget.
Mr Lenzo had asked if the shire would “consider discontinuing this regressive and unfair tax”, collecting it instead by increasing the rate in the dollar. He had provided figures showing its disproportionate effect on the less well off.
The highest dwelling rate, excluding the Municipal Charge, was $48,900, he wrote in his background to the question. The lowest was $31.55.
As a percentage of the rate bill, the $180 component of $48,900 was 0.37 per cent. For the lowest rate ($31.55), the $180 represented 570.52 per cent.
“Although the most extreme example, it does point out the disparity and unfairness of the charge and penalises those who can least afford it,” Mr Lenzo wrote.
In reply, Mr Cowie described the question as “well put”. The 2015-16 budget was almost finished but a review of all shire finances would be ready for the 2016-17 financial year and beyond, he said.
It is believed support for cutting or abolishing the Municipal Charge is gaining support among councillors. It is argued that recovering the revenue lost by way of the sliding-scale rate in the dollar is equitable and achievable.
At the council meeting, eight questions were asked about Red Hill Station Reserve master plan, currently being considered by the council. They covered tensions over the project that ranged from equestrian issues to electric barbecues, maintaining the area’s bushland feel and why the work was being done at all.
(Disclosure: this writer was a committee member of the local community group when the proposal was launched in 2008.)
Red Hill Community Association said the shire had received 90 responses to its community consultation sessions about plans for the area, which is on the corner of Shoreham and Point Leo roads and along part of the old railway line to Merricks. Only three responses were negative.