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
  • budget
  • rating strategy.

The amount collected is determined by the annual budget councils set to provide services to the community.

Rating strategy

Councils determine a rating strategy that suits its community, then set a rate in the dollar to generate the revenue. After a council has determined its annual budget and the revenue needed, the council relies on property values to share the amount among property owners fairly.

Councils are accountable to their communities for their rating decisions and must consult with their community on their draft annual business plan each year. This includes information on proposed rating decisions.

This helps councils balance community demands for services and infrastructure with the revenue 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.

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.

Ask your council about how they can remit or postpone rates.

Seniors Rate Postponement Scheme

State seniors card holders can apply to postpone a portion of rates on their principal place of residence.

The scheme helps older ratepayers, who have a high level of equity in their home but are on limited incomes.

Contact the rates officer at your council to find out about the scheme and how to apply.

Contact the Office of Local Government

Phone: (08) 7109 7145

Postal address:

Office of Local Government
GPO Box 1533
Adelaide SA 5001