BREAKING NEWS By MARTIN GILMOUR TASMANIAN home owners can expect a more equitable council rates system to be operating by next year.
It is understood that state and local government heavyweights have held top-level talks and agreed to throw out the much- criticised Assessed Annual Value system that has led to wild variances in rates caused by the property boom.
It is expected that Tasmania will redraft the Local Government Act and that council rates from next financial year will be flattened and based on land value rather than AAV (the rentable value of the house).
Local Government Minister Jim Cox was reluctant last week to give away too much detail but confirmed that his department had begun discussions with the Local Government Association of Tasmania.
"Determining rates using AAV served us well in the past but it is now inequitable and needs to be replaced," Mr Cox said.
"We now have several councils using different systems and it is confusing and it is a mess.
"We are working closely with LGAT to come up with a better and more equitable system."
It is understood that the State Government has redeployed staff and will have a new set of recommendations for Premier David Bartlett to take to the March state election.
However, several rating experts have warned that simply dropping AAV for land value will do nothing to flatten rates.
They say that land values alone can reflect a similar difference in price to AAV and that some sort of cap, like that used by Devonport City Council, is the fairest.
Devonport's rates are capped at $1375 for the city's most expensive home before set charges like garbage collection are added.
Adding more momentum for change is a report by Auditor- General Mike Blake into rating anomalies that is due for release before the end of August.
The report will examine the legal impact of flat rate structures introduced by Brighton and George Town councils and the inflexibility of the current system.
If Mr Blake recommends that the current system be reviewed it will give Mr Cox, and Mr Bartlett, the perfect opportunity to introduce reforms and hip pocket relief before the next election.
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