Special Rates and Charges

Special Rates and Charges Document No: CPL520.1
Approval Date: 24/02/2015
Approved By: Council
Review Date: 25/10/2017
Responsible Officer: General Manager City Services Version No 01
Authorising Officer: Chief Executive Officer

1. Purpose

To set out the principles for the use of Special Rates and Charges by Council, for the provision of infrastructure or services and their application in a fair, equitable and consistent manner.

2. Scope

This policy applies to the provision of “first up” infrastructure where it can be demonstrated that special benefit applies to those properties included in the scheme. The policy also covers the provision of on-going services to properties or a group of properties which also must satisfy the special benefit test.

The special rate and charge process broadly includes the following:

  • Community consultation.
  • The special benefit test.
  • The relevant legislation and precedent.
  • Scheme preparation and apportionment.
  • Council processes leading to the scheme determination.

3. References

  • The Local Government Act 1989
  • Special Rates and Charges Ministerial Guidelines including worked examples – September 2004
  • Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • Various determinations by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and other Courts.
  • Council Policy – Community Engagement CPL 10.2
  • Special Charge Scheme Community Consultation Guidelines
  • Council Management Procedure – Debt Management – Special Rates and Charges MPR510.2.1.1

4. Definitions

“Special benefit” – is a benefit received by those owners included in the scheme that is over and above that received by others who are not the subject of the scheme.

5. Council Policy

This Council has utilised the Special Rate and Charge provision of the Local Government Act 1989 (The Act) since amalgamation in 1993. Some of the former member Council’s also used private street scheme and drainage provisions of the Local Government Act 1958 from a period of around 1960 onwards.

Financial resources available, in most cases do not enable the construction of new infrastructure or if it can be programmed it would be significantly delayed. Council will continue with its Special Rate and Charge program in order to provide new, up-front infrastructure and provide services. In the preparation, administration and execution of Special Rate and Charge Schemes, Council shall consider fairness, equity and consistency as fundamental principles.

The initiation of a Special Rate or Charge scheme may come from the property owners themselves or there may be instances where for public safety or reasonable amenity, Council may promote a scheme. Council will attempt to provide obvious in-fill infrastructure through the Special Rate and Charge process where applicable.

Drainage systems may be provided via the process and unless otherwise specified will be undertaken on the basis of alleviating public health issues, utilising Section 163B (1) of the Act.

As each Special Rate or Charge scheme is unique, a consultation program shall be tailored to suit specific needs. Council policy CPL 10.2 on Community Engagement shall be used as a guide. A more specific Special Charge Scheme Community Consultation Guidelines document has been produced to provide further guidance. All property owners shall be given the opportunity to provide feedback to Council and discuss issues with Council Officers.The preparation of Special Rate or Charge schemes shall be undertaken by experienced Council Officers. The precedent created by reviewing bodies such as the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), Courts and Review Courts shall be taken into consideration when formulating schemes.

In every instance, special benefit to properties, shall be evaluated and schemes will only proceed where this can be established.

The preparation and administration of special rate and charge schemes shall be in accordance with the Act and the September 2004 Ministerial Guidelines.. An attachment to this policy “Contribution Guidelines” provides further guidance. As schemes are generally unique there is no set method of apportioning costs.

The basic, relevant infrastructure shall be included in a Special Charge Scheme. Any works outside the scope or replacement of existing infrastructure shall be funded by Council.

In providing infrastructure, Council shall apply the standard which is used for other non-scheme projects. References used may be standard drawings, specifications, and current best practice. In instances where property owners request a standard of infrastructure over and above the standard referred to above, the full cost attributed to the higher standard shall be funded by the property owners.

Where required, a Submissions Panel Hearing will take place, affording property owners the opportunity to address Councillors in a relatively informal setting. The Panel will formulate their recommendation as quickly as is practicable and this will form the basis for the recommendation to Council.

From time to time, Council may receive, or provide from its own range of funding streams, ex-gratia contributions to special rate or charge schemes. These funds are to be applied to offset the overall cost of the project and not specific components.

Council may consider schemes from time to time, of a particular and special nature. For reasons unique to a particular scheme Council may resolve to apply a funding arrangement which differs to that shown in the attached “Contribution Guidelines”. This shall be project specific, only.

Council, in considering a scheme, may elect to adopt, abandon or modify a project.

VCAT may review a scheme on owner’s request. Council Officers will represent Council’s decision including reasons why the scheme should proceed.

Where an infrastructure Scheme is adopted, with or without review, a public tender process shall be used to appoint a suitable contractor. Council’s Supervising Engineer shall manage the project including any further discussions and negotiations with property owners.

Once the project has reached final completion and all costs have been aggregated, a finalisation report will be presented to Council. Any cost adjustments will be in accordance with requirements of the Act.

6. Quality Records

Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location
Council Reports Corporate Records Ongoing DataWorks
Minutes Engineering Services 7 years DataWorks
Scheme details, working documents Engineering Services 7 years Engineering Services

7. Attachments

Contribution Guidelines

Page last updated: Monday, 29 November 2021