Volume 17, Issue 1 – Drew & Dollery

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: RATE-CAPPING IN VICTORIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

By Joseph Drew and Brian Dollery

The new Victorian Government won the 2014 election on a platform to inter alia introduce a cap on council rates in all Victorian councils. This means that a rate-cap will be introduced beginning with the 2016/17 financial year, with future rises in rates pegged at the Consumer Price Index (CPI) after this date. This paper provides a comparative empirical analysis of New South Wales local government – the only Australian local government system to operate a rate-pegging regime – and Victorian local government with respect to rate-capping. We find evidence to support the proposition that rate-capping has deleterious effects on municipal revenue effort, equity, debt and infrastructure maintenance. Moreover, our findings do not provide empirical evidence in support of the claim that rate-capping increases municipal efficiency. The paper concludes by considering various alternative public policy instruments to rate-capping.

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