Councils raise most of their revenue through rates - a system of taxation based on the value of property.
The Local Government Act 1999 requires councils to clearly explain and justify their decisions about the amount and distribution of rates.
How councils set rates
Before setting council rates each year, all councils must adopt:
- an annual business plan
- rating strategy.
The level of council rates collected is determined by the annual budget councils set to provide services to the community.
Councils determine a rating strategy that suits its community, then set a rate in the dollar to distribute amongst the community to generate the required revenue.
After a council has determined its annual budget and the total amount of rates revenue it needs, the council relies on the valuation of a property to determine the distribution of the rate burden between ratepayers.
Councils must be accountable to their communities for their rating decisions and are required to consult with their community on their draft annual business plan each year, which includes information on proposed rating decisions.
This consultation process helps councils balance community demands for services and infrastructure with the revenue-raising needed to pay for them.
Concerns about rates and property valuations
If you are concerned about a council's rate-setting decisions or the level of services they provide, contact the council to express your concerns in the first instance.
If you believe the valuation of your property is incorrect, you can write to the Valuer-General, South Australia within 60 days of receiving notification, explaining the grounds for your objection.
More information about property valuation is available on SA.GOV.AU.
Remissions and postponing rates
Under Section 182 of the Local Government Act 1999, a council may remit or postpone the payment of rates if it considers that the payment would impose hardship on the ratepayer.
A council may also provide remissions to holders of commonwealth concession cards or state seniors cards.
Enquiries about remission or postponing rates should be directed to your council.
Seniors Rate Postponement Scheme
State seniors card holders can apply to postpone a proportion of rates on their principal place of residence under the Seniors Rate Postponement Scheme.
The scheme helps older ratepayers who have a high level of equity in their home but are on limited incomes.
For details about the scheme and how to apply, contact the rates officer at your council.