Councils can now hike rates multiple times a year

 

Queensland councils will be given the power to change their rates and charges multiple times in a year under new laws that will extend a range of sweeping COVID-19 measures.

The move will enable the state's local governments to make multiple changes during the 2021-22 financial year to how they charge their residents rates.

Normally councils can only make one change to their rates during a financial year.

But this measure would allow for councils to make multiple rate hikes, or allow them to decrease their rates for a period of time before making increases to them later in the year.

The government says the move, which was also in place during the current financial year, is about safeguarding council revenue streams amid the pandemic.

Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister Steven Miles said the government was extending the whole suite of COVID measures because the pandemic was not over yet.

"This provision means councils have the flexibility to respond to the changing climate that COVID brings," he said.

"Last year most councils deferred rates increases.

"This extension gives them that same opportunity as well as the opportunity to decrease rates if a region is experiencing particular hardship or increase rates to help with economic recovery."

 

Local Government Minister Steven Miles. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle
Local Government Minister Steven Miles. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jono Searle

 

While there is no limit to how many times a council can change its rates during 2021-22 under the laws, it must ensure that the annual Budget is amended and adopted when it does make changes.

During the current financial year, Brisbane City Council froze its rates for the first six months - the first time it did so in more than three decades - before increasing them on average by 2.5 per cent from January 1.

The new laws will also help deliver COVID-safe local government by-elections, by allowing polling days to be adjourned by up to two months - or allowing the Minister to delay it by more than two months.

The laws also give the Minister the power to direct that a poll be conducted by postal ballot.

As she introduced the Bill to parliament, Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman described the election measures as "temporary".

"The Bill demonstrates the continued commitment of the government to support the safety and economic future of all Queenslanders as we respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

Originally published as Councils can now hike rates multiple times a year



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