Rate capping would reduce quality of life in Mid Murray, Mayor Dave Burgess says

Dave Burgess. Photo: File.
Dave Burgess. Photo: File.

Rate capping would mean a poorer lifestyle for residents, the Mid Murray's mayor says, as one of 2018's biggest political stoushes threatens to begin anew.

Mid Murray Council currently plans to increase its property rate by 3.6 per cent from July 1.

Coupled with rising property valuations, particularly for rural properties, the impact on ratepayers of that decision - yet to be finalised - could be significant.

Local Government Minister Stephan Knoll has so far been unable to convince South Australia's parliament to approve a cap on rate increases - a cap which would have been set at 2.9pc, he revealed on Tuesday.

But Mid Murray Mayor Dave Burgess argued that a cap would impact the lifestyle of people living in the district.

"It would mean the patrol grading or resheeting schedule, instead of every 12 months it would be every 18 months; some of our events where we have to close roads and assist the community may have to be user-pays; the support we give through community grants would have to be reviewed ... it has big impacts all the way along," he said.

"Do we want communities which are enjoyable to live in, or do we want the bare basics?"

"It's always a tough call.

"The community wants a lot of things and we want to give them lots of things, but we're always constrained by how much people want to pay and how much we can spend."

Had it become law, rate capping would also have affected the Coorong council, which has planned a 3pc increase this year.

The Murray Bridge council will not pass on a rate increase this year, while the Karoonda East Murray council has not yet finalised its budget.

Mr Knoll argued that a 2.9pc rate cap would have struck the right balance between protecting ratepayers and enabling councils to deliver essential services and projects.

"It beggars belief that some councils continue to run a profit and are still jacking up household and business rates above what they should be," he said.

The state government is currently working on alternative reforms aimed at lowering costs, cutting red tape and increasing transparency in the local government sector.

It will introduce new legislation to parliament later this year.

Rates bills are based on two factors: the rate in the dollar, set by councils, and property values, determined by the Valuer-General.

A rate cap would only affect the former.

The value of residential property in regional South Australia went up by an average of 3.2pc this year, according to the Office of the Valuer-General.

Commercial property was up 1.6pc, industrial 6.1pc and rural property 11.7pc.

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