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Mitchell Shire Council rates cause concern

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MITCHELL Shire residents are calling for answers from council after some were allegedly hit with unexplained rates increases of up to $200 to their fourth-quarter payments.

Residents who received an increase to their quarterly rates said the final instalment payment, due on May 31, had a different value than what they were issued in their original rates notice.

Council rates fund services including street cleaning and lighting, maintenance of local roads, footpaths and drainage, garbage and recycling services and community services such as maintenance of recreation reserves and playgrounds.

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Residents’ rates are calculated based on factors including a municipal charge, garbage charge and a fire services levy charged by the State Government.

Rates are also calculated based on a property valuation that occurs in January each year. The valuation applies to the rates of the upcoming financial year, which are distributed between July and August.

Mitchell Shire Council chief executive officer Brett Luxford said residents’ rates should not change throughout the financial year unless a supplementary valuation is undertaken.

“The annual valuation process that occurs in January each year and applies to July of the next financial year will not change unless a supplementary valuation is undertaken,” he said.

“A supplementary valuation change can occur during the year. This can be for several reasons, including a structure being built on vacant land or a property adding or altering a garbage charge.

“Ratepayers are notified when these changes to rates are made.

“Our website features information on topics such as property valuations, including supplementary valuations that may change the value of your property and rates throughout the year. It also has information about pensioner rebates, charges, payment options and more.

“Ratepayers are encouraged to call council on 5734 6200 if something with their fourth instalment does not appear correct.”

But some affected home owners said the change to their rates notice was not explained, and took to Facebook with their concerns.

“Wallan rates were loads more than Mernda rates were and we didn’t even have footpaths or gutters,” one said.

“Mine has increased by $100 quarterly, so an annual rise of $400,” another commented.

Others defended the alleged increase in council rates, saying Mitchell Shire’s population density justified the costs.

“We are one of the biggest shires per square kilometre with minimal population density,” one said.

“Without paying extreme rates we would get nothing at all.”

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