MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has knocked back an offer from the state government to take over responsibility for property valuations.
The shire has taken the opt-out option under the State Taxation Further
Amendment Act until 2022, the “sunset date” when the state takes over valuations.
However, legislation passed in December requires the shire to conduct annual valuations rather than every two years. The valuations are used for setting council rates, land tax and fire services levies.
Councillors last week agreed to delay state-run valuations until 2022.
In a report, they were told by shire financial controller Bulent Oz the state government wanted to “centralise” property valuations with the Valuer-General from 1 July.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne backed the council’s stand in opting to retain its responsibility for property valuations.
“The in-house valuation team has developed an understanding of the diversity and complexities of our municipality over the past 13 years resulting in successful valuation outcomes,” he said. “Our current in-house model, which undergoes regular reviews, provides a vitally important, high quality and timely service.
“Alongside this local knowledge, residents have the ability and opportunity to discuss their valuations directly with their appointed valuer.”
Mr Oz said the state’s move to annual valuations would “cause unpredictability in ratepayers’ bills from year to year”.
“[This] runs contrary to the perception of the government’s own rate capping policies: smoothing out land tax bill shock,” he said.
Mr Oz said annual valuations would benefit state government coffers through increases in land tax “with an extra $200 million anticipated in 2019-2020 – but not bring any additional revenue to local government”.
He said the current model of the in-house valuation team was “the most cost-effective method of delivering valuation functions to council”.
Mr Oz was sceptical of the Valuer-General’s commitment to producing fortnightly supplementary valuations – a potential shortcoming he predicted would reduce the council’s income.
Under the new legislation the shire would need staff to identify, prepare and process supplementary valuations, with the costs split equally with the government. The reality was that “the full cost will be borne by council”.