3AW’s Neil Mitchell is at it again this morning. His annual rant against land tax seems to have given way to taking calls from people unhappy about the level of their municipal rates.  And who isn’t unhappy paying their rates when asked?  Or, maybe the problem is really the level of the increase in rates?

How many people complain about increases in State land tax, their income tax, their GST?  It is obvious that local government, being closer to the people–and therefore far more approachable–will always receive many more complaints about its charges.

Jack Davis of the Monash Ratepayers Association was on the line to Neil Mitchell, complaining about increases in rates, particularly when the City of Monash is sitting on a surplus of tens of millions of dollars. That’s as maybe, but one of his main issues seemed to be that property values were used as the rating base at all.

Unlike his predecessors, including Alan Johnson, who fought to retain the many benefits of rating on site values (SV) in the then City of Oakleigh, Jack Davis more recently supported the retrograde step of the City of Monash switching from SV rating to Capital Improved Valuer (CIV) rating. I doubt he understood that SV rating is recognised as the most efficient of all tax bases (see chart below), but let’s say Davis’ major concern is that many Monash ratepayers are having difficulty paying their rates.  If this a genuine problem, I trust he knows that ratepayers have the option of approaching council to defer their rates and have them put as a charge against the value of the property – or they can have their kids, who will inherit, help them pay their rates?

Oh, they don’t like those options either?  So they want to be able to eat their cake and still retain it, Jack and Neil?  Now that would be very nice, wouldn’t it?